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LEMOORE — The Lemoore City Council met Tuesday night and created a senior citizen committee after a lengthy discussion. 

The idea of a senior citizen’s advisory group or committee was introduced by Councilman Dave Brown at the council's Feb. 21 meeting. Brown said as a member of the Kings County Commission on Aging, he believed a city group for senior citizens would benefit the community and “improve their way of life.”

Brown said over 10 percent of Lemoore’s population is over the age of 65 and that their input and representation is needed throughout city departments. 

On Tuesday, Michelle Speer, assistant to the city manager, provided the council with three options — an advisory group, a city manager’s senior citizen committee or a senior citizen’s advisory committee.

Speer said an advisory group would be started and managed by citizens, with two City Councilmen appointed to the committee as members. She said all of the management, oversight, agendas and calling of the meetings would be done by the committee members.

Speer said there would be no limit to the number of citizens who could join the advisory group and it wouldn't be limited to senior citizens. It would be up to the advisory group members to formally bring forward any comments, concerns, questions or ideas for a formal City Council vote.

The second option would be a city manager’s senior citizen committee would be very similar to the first option, but Speer said the city manager, or a designee, would be responsible for managing the group.

It would still be a group of unlimited numbers and ages, but the oversight of the committee would be done at the city staff level. The city manager or designee would be the person responsible to come before council with concerns or recommendations.

An advisory committee was the most formal of the three options, and would require an actual ordinance to make the committee into law.

Speer said in the third option, council would set a limit to the number of members in the committee and would work similarly to groups like the Parks and Recreation Commission and Planning Commission. She said there would have to be a quorum in order to hold meetings, the committee would be subject to the Brown Act and would act as an advisory committee for issues related to Lemoore senior citizens.

Mayor Ray Madrigal said he did not like the third option because of the formality needed, but he was also hesitant to support the first option because it was loosely organized and he wasn’t sure things would get done in an orderly manner.

“I’d like to be able to put something together that we would get as much public participation as possible,” Madrigal said. “But then again, having some sort of input that we do to keep it focused to some extent.”

Several senior citizens in attendance voiced their concerns over the Lemoore Senior Citizen Center, saying there is nothing going on there and the center would essentially be closed if not for bingo night. They asked for help getting more services, activities and events at the Senior Center to get more people to attend.

City Attorney Jenell Van Bindsbergen had to clarify to the council and citizens that the formation of an advisory group or committee had nothing to do with the Senior Center, but was intended to be a group to provide ideas to all city departments to enhance participation from senior citizens.

Councilmember Holly Blair said she would be fine with any of the options, as long as something was started to involve the senior citizens and get their ideas. Councilmember Jeff Chedester said he was leaning toward the city manager’s senior citizen committee because it would provide the group with a person to report back to council.

The reporter can be reached at 583-2423 or jzavala@hanfordsentinel.com

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