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New Taylorsville Senior Center addition has woodwork and ceramic artists thrilled

Dec 01, 2017 08:00AM ● Published by Carl Fauver

Taylorsville Senior Center ceramics patron June Pons shows off some of her handicrafts. (Carl Fauver)

Gallery: Senior Center [5 Images] Click any image to expand.

The Taylorsville Senior Center (4743 South 1600 West) celebrated its 15th anniversary this fall, and already the popular site has been expanded twice. The center opened its doors on Sept. 26, 2002, and grew by 3,120 square feet a dozen years later.

This time, the expansion is a more modest 760 square feet. But those seniors who participate in the center’s ceramic and woodworking art programs say it will be “just right.”

Called the “burn room,” the new addition has its own separate ventilation, allowing smoke created by wood-burning projects — and the odor emitted from the center’s ceramics kiln — to leave the center without permeating the rest of the building, as it had in the past.

Deborah Kay and her fellow ceramic artists couldn’t be happier.

“It’s been a pain to have our projects fired for the past couple of years,” Kay said. “For a while, we were taking our pieces elsewhere to fire them. But it will be much nicer to have our own kiln up and running again.”

Another ceramic artist, June Pons, can remember the kiln operating at the center for many years. But then about three years ago the rules changed.

“I know the kiln and the wood burning used to put an odor into the rest of the center,” Pons said. “I don’t know if the fire department ordered us to stop or what happened. But suddenly, we were told we couldn’t use the kiln anymore. So, I quit ceramic work all together and became a hooker.”

After a pause — just long enough for your jaw to hit the ground — June smiles and adds, “That’s what those of us who crochet call ourselves — hookers.”

Pons said she will be glad to resume her ceramic work in the new room, though it will likely mean one less hooker at the center.

“Construction on the burn room began in August, and it should be up and running before the end of the year,” Taylorsville Senior Center Manager Pauline McBride said. “It’s not nearly as big as the 2014 expansion, but it’s an important one so we can resume a couple of our popular activities.”

Three years ago, Taylorsville City budgeted $550,000 to complete that larger 3,120-square-foot expansion, to create a large multipurpose area and an adjacent, two-table billiards room.

The new burn room is just a quarter that size, with a budget of $148,000. Judd Construction is building the 20-foot-by-38-foot room at the southeast corner of the senior center.

“It’ll be plenty big for what we want to do,” said Don Pannier. “And thank goodness there won’t be any puzzles in there.”

A woodworker, Pannier said his hobby stirs up a lot of dust that used to cause problems for puzzle builders who used to share their previous hobby room.

“We have a lot of people who do a lot of different activities here,” McBride added. “We’re trying to create as much space as possible for everyone to do what they like.”

The Taylorsville Senior Center is one of 19 centers throughout the valley. Salt Lake County operates 16 of them.

“Each county-operated center only has three or four full-time employees,” McBride said. “We also have a handful of part-time instructors and kitchen staff. But all of the centers rely heavily on volunteers.”

The Taylorsville center alone has about 100 volunteers donating about 700 hours per month.

Shannon Ralphs is one of them, who’s been donating time to the Taylorsville Senior Center for eight years and now works the front desk.

“I can come in overwhelmed with my own problems, and by the time I walk out, my feet don’t even touch the ground,” Ralphs said.  “Your cup runneth over when you volunteer here. I love interacting with the seniors and staff.”

The Taylorsville Senior Center opens at 8 a.m., Monday through Friday, closing at 5 p.m. three days a week, but remaining open until 8 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays. Transportation to and from the center is available — to any Taylorsville resident, over age 60 — for a $1 donation.

The center also serves lunch to about 60 people each weekday, for a suggested $3 donation.

And as June Pons can attest, “hookers” are welcome. 

For more information about the Taylorsville Senior Center, or to volunteer, call 385-468-3200. 

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