The Chico City Council made a sweet deal with the Wise County Committee on Aging Tuesday – and local seniors are the ones who will benefit.
The city will allow the local Meals on Wheels program to use the kitchen facility inside the community center to cook meals for homebound seniors. The facility was formerly an elementary school, so the kitchen is already set up to prepare large amounts of food.
Currently, meals delivered to local seniors are prepared in Fort Worth and driven to Wise County. They aren’t always hot by the time they reach their intended recipient.
“I really thought that was a shame,” Mayor J.D. Clark said.
Clark said he first became aware of the issue a couple of years ago when he participated in the annual Mayors for Meals day in which local elected officials accompany Meals on Wheels volunteers as they make deliveries.
At the time, the city was in the process of buying the old Chico Elementary facility to turn it into a new city hall and community center.
When he participated in the annual event again this March, Clark found out the WCCA was still in need of a kitchen to prepare meals locally. So he invited the committee and its contractor to the community center to see if it would meet their specifications. It did.
“Basically, what Meals on Wheels would need from us is to use the facility Monday through Friday each morning to prepare hot meals, and they need a place to securely lock up food,” Clark said.
The large walk-in freezer and storage areas proved to be a perfect fit.
Clark said the building is usually rented only on weekends and is not used much during the week – when Meals on Wheels would need to access the kitchen.
Another benefit to preparing the meals locally is that group meals can now be offered for those who aren’t homebound.
“They can take the meals to different senior centers, and people who are over 60 who aren’t homebound can come and eat lunch and visit with and have fellowship with other seniors,” Clark said.
Meals on Wheels could begin using the facility by mid-June.
Chico residents will soon see work get underway on several streets. The council awarded the contract to Bick’s Construction of Fort Worth, on a bid of $328,000.
The project will consist of two phases. Phase 1 will include East Jacksboro Street, East Decatur Street and Flower Lane. Phase 2 will include South Hovey, South Buffalo, Blanton, Church and College.
Clark said he was pleased with the bid, since early estimates had placed the price closer to $400,000. Work is expected to begin by June 15.
The city has asked the Texas Department of Transportation to study and, they hope, make improvements to the intersection of Farm Roads 101 and 1810 in the area near Chico Mart. Clark said the intersection wasn’t designed to handle the amount of industrial traffic it sees today.
“The turning radius is way too small for a hauler,” Clark said. “It’s pretty funny to sit in the Chico Mart parking lot and watch. You’ll notice who is used to going through that intersection and who isn’t.”
Clark said he is also concerned about residents, particularly children, who must cross Texas 101 on foot. He’d like to see a designated crosswalk area.