LIHU’E — Despite objections from Kaua’i Senior Centers Inc., the county is
planning to take over educational and recreational programs now managed by the
“It’s in the county’s best interest to make this change
because we are better equipped to administratively handle the program,” said
Mayor Maryanne Kusaka.
“The county continues to support Kauai Senior
Centers, Inc. as a nonprofit organization to enhance the lives of seniors, and
we will continue to seek their advice in all matters related to seniors,” she
The program serves 843 seniors islandwide. It once served more than
4,000 seniors, but participation dropped to less than a fourth of that number
partly due to the lack of new programs.
KSC Executive Director Lana Rosa
said KSC has been criticized by the county for not creating new programs for a
new wave of younger seniors.
The change in administration becomes
effective July 1.
KSC Inc. Board President John Wyatt said the non-profit
group won’t give up the program without a fight.
The group plans to meet
with the Kaua’i County Council to work out a solution that will allow for the
renewal of the contract, which expires June 30.
Wyatt said he will ask
whether it is legal for the county to award a contract to one of its own
departments without going through a formal bid contract process.
“Certainly we can do the job, we have the people with the expertise, ” he
said. “The seniors don’t work well with the parks and recreation people,” he
News of the change came as a surprise to the KSC board, Wyatt
At a board meeting this month, county officials endorsed KSC’s
continued management of a federal job training program for seniors.
were no signs the county did not want to renew the entire program,” Wyatt
Since 1968, KSC has won a yearly contract with the county to provide
services, Wyatt said. Classes include : Hawaiian quilts, Japanese dancing,
basket weaving, knitting, crafts and Filipino dancing.
interests, Rosa said, nowadays tend to be more lively activities like golfing,
hiking, sightseeing excursions and computer use.
“The existing program is
designed for the retired plantation workers,” she said. “We never changed, we
stayed right where were.”
KSC wants to be progressive in the types of
activities it offers, Wyatt said. It currently offers computer classes at four
of the nine neighborhood centers and has received requests for more computer
In addition, KSC would welcome suggestions for any other new
programs, Wyatt said.
Should the county sever funding, KSC plans to seek
funding from other sources to continue operating the program, although it could
be scaled down due to less funding, Wyatt said.
“Even without the support
of the county, we will provide what the seniors want – bowling, baseball and
extravaganzas.” KSC, he said, recently secured a $28,000 grant to bolster its
current budget and future budgets.
The organization has a $127,000 contract
with the county Agency of Elderly Affairs. About half of the funds come from
federal sources and the other half from county sources.
Wyatt said KSC has
had accounting and personnel problems in the past, but they have been
Rosa said the nonprofit group may not have complied with
contract requirements in the past 10 years due to limited resources and
But the group now has a full-time staff that is committed to
providing a full range of services for the seniors, Rosa said.
“We want to
prove ourselves,” she said. “I want to bring our credibility up, if we have
lost it all.”
Wyatt and Rosa said they hope the program continues in some
form to serve the seniors.
“The bottom line is that I want to make it good
for seniors,” Rosa said. “This program is for them.”
County officials have
echoed that sentiment. “We are asking for the cooperation of all parties in
this effort to give the senior programs the stability and continuity that they
so richly deserve,” Kusaka said.
Without the county’s financial support,
KSC will probably have to move out of the neighborhood centers and relocate
KCS currently has 13 employees, but some may lose their jobs
with the end of the county support.