County Commission commits to new Loxley S.A.I.L. Center building


LOXLEY — Seniors gathered at the S.A.I.L. Center in Loxley on Monday to hear some big news.

“We were going over the budget for the next fiscal year and included were some rather large expenses for repairs for the S.A.I.L. Center,” said Baldwin County Commission District 3 representative Billy Jo Underwood. “So, I said, why not just build a new building.”

Commissioners were able to work together to budget $150,000 to build a new center, which will be located on one acre of land acquired by the County Commission on Longview Drive off of County Road 49, south of Loxley.

“We didn’t intend on moving the Center out of this community,” Underwood said. The current S.A.I.L. Center sits on land owned by the Baldwin County Board of Education, the original site of Ellisville School. “We want this to still be a part of the community and want it to be used by the entire community and be a vital part of the community.”

The County Commission recently finalized plans to build a new S.A.I.L. Center in the Little River Community of North Baldwin County, Underwood said, and the amount set aside for the new Loxley facility is approximately what is being spent on that facility.

“That’s what we based in the number on,” she said. “This is really just in the beginning planning stages. We really don’t have building plans yet for the facility, the size or a definite timeline for construction. We do know that it is in this year’s budget and we are hoping to have it completed sometime during this fiscal year.”

While officials with the S.A.I.L. Center were not sure how long the facility had served Loxley, it is believed that the building has been used in that capacity since the early 1980s, said Loxley S.A.I.L. Center Director Betty Dryden.

Working with the George P. Thames Adult Activity Center in Robertsdale, the facility serves as a staging point to deliver hot meals to homebound seniors.

“The facility has to maintain a minimum delivery of 25 meals in order to receive state funding,” said Baldwin County Council on Aging Director Kelly Childress. “Right now, between this facility and Robertsdale, more than 40 meals are being delivered on a daily basis.”

Underwood said all of the commissioners work together to provide service to all the citizens of Baldwin County.

“Don’t just thank me,” she said. “This is a coordinated effort by all of our County Commission.”

This is something, however, Underwood said, that is close to her heart.

“I grew up in Summerdale and my brother is the mayor of Summerdale,” she said. “The Summerdale S.A.I.L. Center has served the residents there for more than 40 years, so when I heard that there are facilities which serve under the county, I wanted to make sure we do everything we can to get them what they need.”

Also on hand for the announcement were Loxley Mayor Richard Teal and Mayor Pro Tem Kasey Childress.

“I just want to say how much we appreciate the County Commission for making the commitment to build this new facility,” Teal said, “and for making it possible for this facility to better serve the residents of Loxley.”