LL senior center opens after week-long shut down

........................................................................................................................................................................................

An aged heater system at the Fred Luna Senior Center in Los Lunas broke down on New Year's Eve, forcing officials to evacuate and shut down the facility for a week.

The dilapidated heater was one of four such heating systems at the center that was slated to be replaced as part of a $200,000 general appropriation approved by legislators in the last 2011 legislative session.

However, Gov. Susana Martinez line-item vetoed the appropriation before the much needed revenue could be used for general repairs and system replacements at the senior center.

"We were fortunate to secure that funding for the Valencia County senior center in last year's session," said Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez (D-Belen). "Any time you can update equipment that's identified as being on its last leg, it's going to save money and aggravation in the long run."

Workers could not find parts to fix the obsolete heater so an emergency allocation of $3,500 had to be secured from the state Aging and Long-Term Services Department to replace it so that the senior center could reopen, according to Jose Campos, the director of the Valencia County Older American Program, which oversees the facility.

It's only a matter of time before the rest of the heaters break down, he added.

Campos said officials at the center will again request funds for upgrades to the facility at this year's legislative session.

"That $200,000 would've gone for upgrades here," Campos said. "The governor vetoed it. Seniors have been calling all week. We were finally able to open today (Monday, Jan. 7)."