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Seniors to help choose director for city center

[07/11/01] Regulars at Vicksburg’s senior center have been awaiting a new director and now it appears some of them will have the opportunity to join the selection process.

In March, patrons of the busy facilities at South and Walnut streets lost their director and friend, Anna Lisa Cockrell, when she resigned to move with her family to Washington, D.C., after her husband’s job transfer with the Army Corps of Engineers.

Since then, assistant director Walter Henyard has been acting as director. Former Mayor Robert Walker was initially expected to name a director before his term ended July 1 but that didn’t happen.

Mayor Laurence Leyens said he will get the center’s visitors to help make the decision. On Friday, he asked Henyard to select a committee of 10 to go through the applications and select a nominee.

Several who were gathered at the center Tuesday for arts and crafts said again that Cockrell will be hard to replace.

Since its inception, programs have grown to include everything from cooking to computers, ballroom dancing to dulcimer playing. Cockrell made up a schedule for the center through December to give her replacement time to get to know the seniors and to keep things lively at the center.

“Everything’s still fun,” Arveta Avant said, adding that on July 20, the center will have a band and a dance and activities are still thriving although things tend to slow down in the summer time.

Henyard said he has about eight people in mind to sit on the committee and is still looking for two more.

“We should be able to name someone by next month,” Henyard said. He said the group will go over applications and narrow choices to two. The city administration will go from there.

“All and all, it’s going pretty smooth,” Bea Warnock said. “Walter’s doing a good job.”

The seniors said they understood the delay in selecting a director. They added that they appreciated Walker not rushing into any decisions.

They also said they have received encouragement for what they do at the senior center from the new mayor.

“We got a very nice thank you’ letter from the mayor for cutting out fans for the inauguration,” Avant said. The seniors contributed to the inauguration celebration on July 1 by creating decorations for the event.