All but one entrance to senior center will become exit-only doors

Published 7:17 pm Friday, January 18, 2019

Beginning Tuesday, all doors at the Grace Martin Harwell Senior Center — except the main entrance — will become exits only.

The change is for the security of the center’s employees, members and visitors. The doors will have signs that identify them as exit-only.

“We are doing this to maintain the highest security, safety and protection we possibly can in our facility,” reads a posting on the center’s website.

All employees, members and visitors will be required to use main entrance on the “skinny” parking lot side of the Peterson Building, where the center is located.

The new policy is more of a convenience for the center rather than a response to possible threats to the facility, said Kristi Roberson, director of parks and recreation for the center. “They are trying to filter everybody through the front door to make sure we are getting all of our numbers accurately,” she said.

The new policy likely will be permanent.

“I think they are trying to do that. We have a check-in at the front desk, and if we got everybody coming through the front door, it will get will of our numbers more accurately, “Roberson said. “It just doesn’t leave the end of that building open and unsecured if nothing is going on down there.”

Deb Bauer, program director for the center, said although there have been no incidents involving security at the center, the new policy is a combination of security and convenience. “It’s a combination of both. We want to make sure we have our bases covered.”

The center is working with the Washington Police Department to evaluate the building’s security.

“If you understand the dynamics of our building here, there are multiple ways to enter the building and it’s not safe. We’re looking at ways to increase security for our participants and for volunteers and staff in this building, as well as to try and ensure we have an accurate count of who’s coming in and out of the building,” Bauer said. “We not had any security issues, but we’re trying to head that off at the pass in light of society today.”

Zoe Taylor, special populations supervisors at the center, said the new policy would allow the center to provide more accurate numbers to the City Council about program participants.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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