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In 2015: Senior Center opens doors after long journey

There is no question that the top story of 2015 was Jonesborough’s beleaguered Senior Center. With a groundbreaking in 2013, the town held its breath in excited anticipation for a Center that had long been imagined and was finally to be realized.
They had to hold that breath for two more years. From budget issues to weather concerns to contractor disputes, the project on the hill seemed to be forever stalled.
Weekly project meetings, begun in April, were implemented to ensure quality and spur completion. A new finish date was set for June.
Yet problems persisted. After only two meetings, contractor Scott Rainey walked out of weekly discussions charging the town with non-payment and threatening to pull his men from the job. Town officials, in return, maintained that the project had been threatened by poor contractor oversight and performance.
The back and forth between the two parties would continue, with a few moments of peaceful reprieve between, for several more months. June would come and go. A new date was set for August. And when that too seemed to become an impossibility, Jonesborough – working through the project’s bonding company, Westfield Insurance – decided there was only one action left to them.
At an emergency meeting called in late August, Jonesborough’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted unanimously to declare Rainey Contracting LLC in default of contract and terminate the company from the project.
“This has been a long torturous road for us,” Jonesborough Mayor Kelly Wolfe said at the time. Yet town officials voiced their determination to finish the project.
Appointed by Westfield to step in, Landmark Corporation took over the role of general contractor on Aug. 24. After careful evaluation by Landmark and a new completion date of late November, the project once again was on the move.
In the end, after a few more minor delays, the town welcomed its new Senior Center on Dec. 7.
Hundreds of seniors — along with a myriad of local residents and town, county and state officials — gathered to celebrate the long-awaited opening. And while work on the lower level of the building and its landscaping continues, for a time at least, the town was content.
“It’s beautiful,” said Frances Campbell, a member of the Jonesborough Senior Center, at the opening. “It’s bigger than I thought it would be.”