There’s no place like home.
So people who go to the Fremont Friendship Center are glad to be back in a place that has been home to a variety of activities for area residents ages 60 and over.
During the week of Thanksgiving, center activities were moved to the adjacent Christensen Field main arena so work could be done on the friendship center floor.
The floor’s old, original tiles were pulled up. Underlying concrete was grounded down and finished concrete was put in place.
Staffers of the Fremont Parks and Recreation department then cleaned walls and put back tables.
And folks who go to the friendship center for lunch and activities were able to return there on Monday.
“It’s been great,” said Lori Harms, center manager. “The seniors are glad for it to be done. We’ve moved the tables and different things around to give it a fresh look.”
Plans are to dull down the floor’s shiny surface so it won’t look like it’s wet.
“Some of the seniors are afraid they’re going to fall,” Harms said.
Fremont Parks and Recreation director Kim Koski said Sherman Williams is a billion-dollar company that conducts slip tests and wouldn’t put down a dangerous product that could create slips and fall.
But the floor’s surface will be dulled down so it won’t be as shiny and will hide scratches. Plans are to get rubber boots for the bottom of the chairs to help prevent damage to the new floor.
Koski said the finished concrete will be much easier to maintain.
Harms also said the floor will not need to be buffed (like the center’s original tile floor), which will give the custodian more time for other tasks.
Work still needs to be done in the bathrooms and kitchen.
“We’re using the Christensen Field kitchen and we have carts that we’ll bring everything over here and put it into our steam table, then we take everything back to the CF kitchen for cleaning, because we don’t have access to our kitchen at this point,” Harms said.
Other plans are underway.
“We’re in the process of picking paint colors,” Harms said.
Paint for the walls will contrast the floor.
“The floor’s a little bit darker so we want it to be a light, cheery color,” Harms said.
In the meantime, Harms and others are glad to be in the friendship center again.
“It’s been nice to be back in here,” said A.J. Sellhorst, a center patron. “I enjoy being here and playing cards and seeing my friends. My favorite (activity) is volleyball. It’s fun.”
Being in the Christensen Field main arena was OK.
“It was all right, but it wasn’t homey like this,” Sellhorst said. “This is much, much better.”
Harms is looking to the future.
“We’re excited to get everything totally done and back in place,” Harms said. “We have some new programming, new ideas that we’re going to do.”
Plans to upgrade the friendship center have been in the works for a while.
The City of Fremont received a $200,000 grant from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development for improvements.
“We were awarded $200,000 and the city’s portion is a $40,000 match, so we have a total of $240,000,” Koski said.
Besides the new flooring, funds also will be used to make Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) updates to friendship center restrooms.
Plans are to install elevated stools in the restrooms. The plans also include installing new sinks with motion sensors on faucets and soap dispensers and paper towels for patrons who might have issues such as arthritis in their hands that prevent them from turning on a traditional faucet or soap dispenser.