South County Senior Center director resigns, no timeline for new hire

  • Christina Johnson, seen at the recent South County Senior Center picnic, has resigned as director. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

  • The South County Senior Center on North Main Street in South Deerfield. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • The South County Senior Center on North Main Street in South Deerfield. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 8/5/2021 8:15:18 PM

SOUTH DEERFIELD — The South County Senior Center’s director, Christina Johnson, resigned July 21, leaving it with a leadership gap amid a hazy future as the building awaits a reopening date.

The resignation came after several weeks of executive sessions held by the South County Senior Center Board of Oversight, which is composed of Deerfield, Sunderland and Whately Selectboard members Trevor McDaniel, Tom Fydenkevez and Jonathan Edwards, respectively.

McDaniel said he was unable to speak on any details related to the resignation and read a prepared statement.

“The board thanks Ms. Johnson for her service to the town,” McDaniel said, reading the statement in a phone interview. “Ms. Johnson thanks the board and the residents for the opportunity to serve as Senior Center director.”

Johnson said she enjoyed her time at the Senior Center and she will miss all of the people she’s worked with.

“I loved being director,” Johnson said in a text message, “and miss all the seniors immensely.”

After reading the prepared statement, McDaniel said Senior Center Program Coordinator Sue Corey and the town administrators of the three towns are working together as they prepare to post the job opening.

“(Corey) is running the day-to-day stuff,” McDaniel said. “The town administrators of the three towns are giving her support and we’re working to clean up and review the job description.”

Corey has worked under four different directors over the course of 10 years with the Senior Center, and said she does everything she can to keep services going.

“I just try to keep it going in between the directors because I don’t want the center to close down,” Corey said. “I do what I can to keep it going.”

She added both the town and the seniors themselves are helping her as the town begins its search for a new director.

“The town is very supportive during that time,” Corey said. “The seniors are wonderful, they’re willing to help out in any way so they can keep the center open and going.”

McDaniel did not have a specific timeline for when the job would be posted.

“We need to hire somebody as soon as we can,” McDaniel said. “The Board of Oversight will look at the job description. … Every time you change jobs you can see what you can add and take away.”

The South County Senior Center building remains closed as it awaits an environmental assessment. McDaniel said the town has received the raw data from the assessment and the full report could be coming this week. He added the Senior Center is busy handling many issues at once between Johnson’s resignation, the retirement of its longtime dining center manager and the continued closure of the building.

“There’s a lot of work to do there; it’s in such disarray,” McDaniel said. “I really wish we had a space.”

Corey said these obstacles will not affect the Senior Center’s services, and seniors are still able to gather under a tent on the lawn despite the building being closed.

“We just started introducing more programs under the tent,” Corey said. “We’ll get through this.”


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