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Miller announces plans to step down from senior center

Jonesborough Senior Center Director Joan Miller says she will step down as the center’s director, coinciding with the opening of the town’s new senior center scheduled for completion by the end of 2014.
“I’m planning to stay on until the new building is open,” Miller said, “but I don’t want to be the director of the new center.”
Miller, who has been the Jonesborough Senior Center director for 16 years, told the Herald & Tribune her decision is a purely personal decision.
“It would just be more than I could handle,” she said. “I don’t have the experience or the expertise to run a center of that size.”
Calling her time as director of the current center “a wonderful experience,” she said even though she has no desire to continue to be “the top dog,” she hopes that once the new center opens she can continue to be involved, working as an employee of the facility.
“I love this place, and it’s been my baby for a long time,” Miller said. “The first day I walked in, these people made me feel so welcome. I wouldn’t have traded my time here for anything.”
Miller has been a strong advocate for the construction of a new center. During her time as director, membership has more than tripled, growing from 600 to 1,936 members.
The current center is 5,000 square feet and operates out of a former RV sales office. It has been at its Persimmon Ridge Road location since 1988.
Between 50-60 seniors visit the center every day, Monday through Friday, Miller said, and although some leave after they exercise or take a class, others stay all day.
“We outgrew this building a long time ago and having only 34 parking spaces has been a problem for quite sometime,” Miller said. “They’ve been coming here in by the droves, but it has been a wonderful experience to have.”
The new $2.3 million two-story center will offer up to 25,000 square feet for activities and meetings. Weather permitting, it is expected to open in 8-12 months. An official groundbreaking for the facility was held on Nov. 26, on the construction site at the corner of Longview and East Main Street.
Miller predicts, when it does open, attendance will increase even more.
“It’s really going to be something,” Miller said. “Lots of new people who haven’t ever been to the senior center will come and they will stay. Ones who haven’t been coming will come back.”
“It’s going to grow,” she added, “and they will all want to come at the same time, so they might as well pave the overflow parking lot because they are going to need it.”
A project of this magnitude has depended on a lot of hard work and support from the community, Miller said.
“I just have the utmost admiration for Jonesborough for voting for a tax increase to build this center,” she said. “That certainly says a lot for our town.”
She also praised Washington County “for coming through for us with their commitment of $500,000” for the project, one that she says is certainly worthwhile.
“It means so much to these people who come here,” Miller said. “When they get the center finished, it’s really going to be wonderful. Hopefully, it will be a place where I can come and work and go home at the end of the day feeling like I’ve made a difference.”