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Repairs done, Vets Hall to reopen June 14



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June 09, 2010 - After being closed for cleanup and repairs over the last four-and-a-half months, the Oxford Veterans Memorial Civic Center will once again be open to the public beginning Monday, June 14.

"I'm sure the senior citizens will be happy to hear the news," said Oxford Township Supervisor Bill Dunn. "That place is pretty important to them. It's like their own club."

News of the downtown facility's reopening was music to Jean Jorgensen's ears. She heads a social group called the Oxford Senior Citizens, which meets at the building multiple times a week to play cards, bingo and eat lunch together.

"To be able to get back home, as we call it, it's going to be great," Jorgensen said. "Everything's there and we're used to doing things a certain way."

Commonly known as the Vets Hall, the facility located at 28 N. Washington St. has been closed since Feb. 1 when a fire suppression pipe burst, flooding the first and second floors along with the basement.

The break occurred just above a sprinkler head when apparently the pipe froze, thawed, then burst.

Water cascaded down from the second floor to the rest of the building The ensuing flood caused significant damage to both structure and contents.

Shortly after the flood, the township, which owns the building, hired Montgomery & Sons, Inc., an Orion-based fire and water damage restoration company, to clean up the Vets Hall and carry out the necessary renovations.

"We've got about $140,000 in repairs and there was additional money for some demolition and drying, that another company, Expert Services (in Livonia), did. That was about $40,000," according to Art Shipman, a representative from Montgomery & Sons.

Fortunately, the township building is insured and the only cost the municipality will bear is a $500 deductible.

Montgomery & Sons and the insurance company have yet to work out a total for the overall project.

"I don't have a final cost yet," Shipman said. "The insurance company hasn't come to any conclusions as far as what they're willing to pay, which is fairly normal. On occasion, we don't have an agreed price before the end of the project."

"Our goal is to get an agreed scope of work, so that we're sure the whole project will come out the way we envision it," he explained. "Then the money is a negotiated thing."

Shipman indicated Montgomery & Sons wouldn't come after the township for any costs not paid by the insurance company, should there be any.

"I can't speak for other people, but we would never do that," he said. "I told them at the original board meeting that's (the) part of the business that we know and understand . . . There's no liability on the part of the township."

Shipman described the Vets Hall project as a "total remodel."

"It was pretty much take out the old and put in the new," he said.

The work included installing new insulation, drywall, ceiling tiles, carpeting and vinyl flooring, along with doing some painting.

"Water (damage) is sometimes worse than having a fire," he said.

Shipman said most of the work involved bringing the building down to the "raw wood" and starting renovations from there.

"The kitchen we pretty much took down to the studs," he said.

He indicated the biggest problem with the project was removing the multiple layers of flooring that had accumulated over the years.

"The water goes through all of those layers, so all of those layers had to be removed down to the original subfloor," Shipman said.

Now that the work's done, Jorgensen said the seniors can't wait to move back in.

With the Vets Hall closed, the group had been playing cards at Hope Senior Apartments and conducting its bingo games at St. Mary's Retreat House, both on W. Drahner Rd.

"I do want to publicly thank Hope Senior Apartments and St. Mary's Retreat House for letting us use their places, free of charge," Jorgensen said. "It means a lot to us."

Jorgensen said the weekly pinochle and euchre games will probably be able to resume at the Vets Hall right away next week, however, she's not certain about the bingo games.

"We've moved our bingo stuff over to St. Mary's. That all has to be brought back," she said. "I'm hoping we can open next week, but it depends on whether we can get everything moved back in and sorted out in time."

Pinochle is played on Mondays from 1-3 p.m. and euchre on Thursdays from 1-3 p.m. Bingo games are conducted on Wednesday from 10:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. and again on Fridays following the 12:30 p.m. luncheon.

Becky Paquin, who coordinates programs for senior citizens through the township parks and recreation department, said the line-dancing and Tai Chi classes will return to the Vets Hall in mid-August.

In order to avoid creating any confusion, these classes will continue being conducted at their temporary homes through the end of July, she said.

Line-dancing classes will continue to take place at Immanuel Congregational United Church of Christ at 1 Hovey St. and the Tai Chi classes at the Oxford Village Community Room on W. Burdick St.

"The line-dancers are really comfortable where they're at right now," Paquin said.

She noted it will be about a month before the department gets six new computers to replace the ones damaged in the flood.

Paquin's currently seeking someone to oversee the new senior computer lab as far as opening and closing the facility, turning the computers on and off, and administering the sign-in sheet.

"What I'm looking for is somebody who wants to volunteer their time," she said.

For more information about the Oxford Senior Citizens group, contact Jorgensen at (248) 628-4139.

Questions regarding parks/rec. senior programs or the volunteer position for the computer lab, call Paquin at (248) 628-1720.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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