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Orion Center brings together all ages under one roof


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Lisa Sokol in front of the new Orion Center. Photo by T.Keiser (click for larger version)

April 25, 2012 - After breaking ground in October 2010, Community Programs Director Lisa Sokol is anticipating final approval on the new Orion Center at 1335 Joslyn Road.

"We're really looking forward to finally being able to open the building when we get final approval to do that," Sokol said. "I think the community will be really pleased with the diversity. We were in a building that was a quarter of this size."

The 27,000 square foot building will house both Parks and Recreation and Senior Services under one roof.

Upstairs has a community reception area, a small gathering room called the "Orion Room" with a fireplace where people can have a "cozy" place to sit and relax or to hold small meetings.

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"We're hoping to have wiFi so the community can use computers and i-pads and stuff," Sokol added.

Upstairs is also a large meeting room that can be divided into separate room as well as hold between 225-250 people. It's also a rentable space for the community and has a dance floor.

Downstairs contains and exercise room that will service seniors 62 years and older and special needs, 18 years and older.

"We'll be getting grants to fund a lot of the additional equipment for the workout room," noted Sokol.

There is also an arts and crafts room, a Wellness Center, which include a partnership with Crittenten Hospital, two multi-purpose rooms that can be rented out to the community and a branch of the Orion Township Library.

"We have senior library with four computer stations and classes on how to use the internet, how to do e-mail, and do social networking," Sokol said. "We'll have large print books and books on CDs and we'll also allow people to order books on loan, drop from main library to here."

There also is a large room for health activities such as yoga and aerobic/dance classes. For the first time ever there is a "Man Cave" for the senior gentlemen, which includes a pool table donated by Wolverine Custom Pool Tables. Along with the pool table, there is a game table with four board games such as Checkers, Chess, Chinese Checkers, and Backgammet.

"It doesn't have to be just guys," Sokol said "It was a new concept that we've never really had a space where the guys could hang out that come to the senior center."

Downstairs also contains a special Ham Radio Operator room, where some of the seniors operate ham radios in conjunction with weather stations and Oakland County. The Orion Center is also equipped to be an emergency center site with a large scale generator so heat and electricity can still be ran, as well as showers in the bathrooms for people to use.

They also share the facility with Orion Neighborhood Television (ONTV).

"We are partnering with them to allow seniors to learn about production work," she said. "A lot of our meeting rooms we have plug and play."

When Sokol came to the township eight years ago to be the senior center director, there were only about 100 seniors participating in programs. Now, said Sokol there is over 1,500.

"I know we'll grow even larger with the facility and that we're centrally located in the community," she said. "We're also right on the safety path and the Polly Ann Trail backs up to our property, so we have opportunity to go biking, walking and start up some new bird watching groups."

Sokol said within the first few months of being open they will be offering resident and non-resident seniors prorated prices on membership fees.

For more information on programs, activities and rental prices call 248-391-0304, ext 305 or visit oriontownship.org

"We want to welcome the community," Sokol said. "As soon as we're open we'll get the word out."

Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.
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