Source: Sherman Publications

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Orion Center to drop membership fees

by Gabriel L. Ouzounian

December 12, 2012

The new Orion Center was finished in April, but attendance and membership at the new senior citizen center fell dramatically.

At a Dec. 3 Orion Township meeting, the Orion Senior Advisory Committee (OSAC) presented their findings for senior attendance to the new Orion Center, and the numbers were not good.

"We lost 75 percent of people from the old building who were members and we've lost 90 percent of people coming from outside the township," said OSAC member Bill Kokenos. "Trips are being cancelled from lack of participation, but we want to build up the membership. The fee for membership was between $20 and $80 annually depending on residence and marital status, but it's the perception that we've always had it free before, so 'why am I paying to be a member?'

"So we made a presentation to the township board for their immediate approval to remove all membership fees for the Orion Center for everyone."

Some of the numbers reviewed in the presentation included total members, which dropped from 1576 to just 399 from 2011 to 2012.

The trustees agreed, and voted to remove the fee. Township Supervisor Chris Barnett agreed and said it was a shame to have a "beautiful new building" that was being underutilized. Total membership renewal was down 83 percent to 259.

The senior advisory committee stressed that lowering the fee was not helpful and eliminating it was the right step. Seniors from outside Orion also had the option of choosing other senior centers, many of which remain free.

Trips were also impacted by the membership fee, which did not include the cost