Following a personnel and board shake-up at the Callaway Senior Center, the center lost its administrator and its partnership with Aging Best on Sept. 14.
Furthermore, during a closed meeting Friday, a majority of senior center board members declared two individuals serving on the board weren't actually duly elected. These changes follow conflicts between board members and between former center administrator April Redman and her employer Aging Best (formerly known as Central Missouri Area Agency on Aging).
"On both sides, there are problems," Redman said Sept. 14. "Trying to be a go-between is an impossible position."
The Callaway Senior Center, located in Fulton, is owned by the CSC's elected board. Years ago, the board partnered with Aging Best to coordinate a nutrition program. Each of Missouri's 10 area agencies on aging, including Aging Best, receives federal funds by way of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. With these funds, they're required to provide services including home-delivered and "congregate" meals within their service areas, among others.
Aging Best paid the senior center $65 per month for use of its kitchen and two offices, and employed a cook, dishwasher and administrator at the facility.
Though the senior center's doors remain open, the center is no longer serving or home-delivering meals, senior center board secretary Bonnie Mann confirmed Monday: "There's no cook, no director and no dishwasher. Aging Best got rid of all them."
Aging Best CEO Rebecca Nowlin said the agency will ensure those who have signed up for home-delivered meals will continue to receive them.
"And people can call us if they'd like what we're calling a curbside meal," she said Friday. "We have an 800 number, 1-800-369-5211."
She added that the agency plans to seek a new partner for the nutrition program in Callaway County; while the senior center is welcome to apply, Aging Best does not plan to resume administering the center.
However, in response to a request for a follow-up conversation Monday, Nowlin said: "I understand that that the situation with the senior center is evolving and we've been asked to hold off on engaging in any discussions until things have been resolved."
The break between Aging Best and the senior center appears to have occurred over Redman's firing. The morning of Sept. 14, board president Diane Watson asked Redman to stay in the building and not hand her keys over to Aging Best until the board could hold an emergency meeting, Redman said. (Watson could not be reached for comment Tuesday.)
"What I do know and what I can say is it's clear the local board is very fractured," Nowlin said Friday of why Aging Best terminated its partnership with the senior center. "I haven't been privy to all of that. All I can tell you is we haven't been able to provide the services — we weren't able to physically do them. We didn't have access to the building."
The senior center's board met publicly Sept. 16. During a impassioned two-hour meeting, several board members — including Betty Woodson, Holly Dudley and Patsy Dillon — departed abruptly and two (Katherine Bader and Frank Raschert) turned in resignations.
"There's too much chaos," Raschert said, adding he'd just joined the board in the last couple of months.
At the meeting, Redman alleged Aging Best had plans to cater all congregate meals served at the senior center from Jefferson City — which would cost seniors more and eat into the center's federal funding while providing no additional benefits. That plan would also eliminate the cook and dishwasher positions at the senior center, she said.
She and Bader — with whom she runs Callaway Cares, an organization which provides food to the senior center and the Fulton Soup Kitchen — proposed severing ties with Aging Best altogether. Redman told the board and other attendees the senior center had enough funding available to operate for at least a year. The meeting ultimately adjourned without a vote.
Then on Friday, Watson, Mann, Robert Schneider, Betty O'Neal, Woodson, Dudley and Dillon met at the office of attorney Tom Riley. That meeting produced a resolution in which the board members present declared they were the only "duly elected and currently-serving directors" of the center and that neither Bader (who'd resigned Sept. 16) or Bishop Randy Stevens (who'd joined the board in September) were board members.
The resolution goes on to forbid anyone except the board of directors from transacting business with the board's Callaway Bank account and to ban Bader, Redman and Stevens from the senior center's premises.
"Finally, the Board of Directors hires Riley & Stingley P.C. to seek reinstatement of ties with (Aging Best) and to propose best practices for board and financial management," it concludes.
Callaway Senior Center's board will host a public meeting 9 a.m. Thursday to discuss the situation. Schneider declined to address additional questions prior to the meeting, via his wife, Mary Schneider, who is listed as an Aging Best advisory council member on AB's website.
"At that meeting, they hope to be able to talk freely," Mary Schneider said Monday.
Check Friday for a follow-up story covering the meeting and more details about the allegations on both sides.