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Marion Hazelton plays a hand of cribbage during a regular visit to the Wason Pond Community Center. Senior citizens in town enjoy using the center for daily activities like cards, bingo, coffee time and other special events.

CHESTER | A group of residents hopes to provide comfort and warmth any time someone loses power and needs a place to stay.

The Chester Senior Citizens is making plans to purchase a generator and transform the group's meeting place at the Wason Pond Community Center into a safe haven where people without power can gather for warmth, a good cup of coffee and friendship.

The senior group, with approximately 85 to 90 members, meets regularly at the center, located at 603 Raymond Road near the former Silver Sands campground.

The town acquired the building and campground, a total of 105 acres, several years ago, and volunteers pitched in and transformed the former campground caretaker cottage into a bustling community center used by not only the seniors but other town groups.

According to Robert Packard, the seniors' plan to purchase a generator was a "joint effort" when the group decided it would be important to have an additional plan in place for more minor emergency times, when power might go out, or when someone needs to come to a warm place in the colder months or to a cool place with plenty of air conditioning during the hot summer season.

"We could have the center open during a minor emergency day," Packard said. "We don't want to overshadow the town's efforts."

Those efforts, Packard added, include opening official emergency centers during more drastic storms, disasters or power outages. He said the senior group's efforts would complement the town's efforts, ensuring that older residents are safe and not in need of anything.

"We have a lot of seniors in town," he said.

Packard said originally the seniors contacted the Fire Department about the generator idea, and since then, everyone has been on the same page to make the project happen.

He said a lot of the town's seniors live alone, so to add to the generator project, an emergency call list is in the works to help not only the seniors, but also emergency personnel in Chester's Police and Fire departments keep track of where everyone lives and if there are any special needs associated with a particular resident.

Packard said the Chester Lions Club provided a list of senior citizen names, and a letter will be going out soon to all seniors who may wish to be included on the emergency call list.

"And any special needs, we will share (that information) with the Fire Department," he said.

Packard estimates the generator will cost about $1,000, with another $500 needed to make the Wason Pond community center building ready to support the equipment and keep within all the electrical codes and procedures. He said the senior group is planning fundraising for the project. Some personal contributions have already been received.

Packard said he likes being a part of the Chester seniors' group, a group that is active, strong and committed to helping the town with various community projects. The group meets regularly, Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the center.

To learn more about the Chester Senior Citizens or the generator project, call the center at 887-5034. Visit the Chester seniors online at www.chesterseniors.com.

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