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Officials emphasize senior safety at event

By Greg Oliver

The Journal

SENECA — Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw, Oconee County Emergency Services director Scott Krein and 10th Circuit Solicitor David Wagner were among county and state officials on hand Friday to inform local seniors about services available to help them in their everyday lives.

Tenth Circuit Solicitor David Wagner talks to the audience at the inaugural Senior P.R.E.P. event at the Gignilliat Center in Seneca on Friday. Greg Oliver | The Journal

Senior P.R.E.P., a program administered through the S.C. Lieutenant Governor’s Office on Aging and held at the Gignilliat Center, also featured vendor tables for those attending to gather information and representatives ready to answer questions.

Crenshaw said making seniors aware of how to stay safe and how to take advantage of various services has been a goal since he took office.

“Oconee County is No. 1 in the state per capita with 22-23 percent senior citizens,” Crenshaw said. “In working with the council on aging, we decided that a lot of our seniors may not be aware of services available to them and about safety and security measures and that led to the coordination of this meeting.

“We love seniors — y’all don’t cause us any problems,” Crenshaw added. “But we’ve got to ensure we’re providing services to you and keep you safe from crime. The No. 1 goal of law enforcement and emergency services is to protect those who can’t protect themselves. A lot of times that involves senior citizens and they become victims of crime, elderly abuse (and) fraud, and our goal today is to teach seniors about the services that are out there and help them pick up things that will make them safer moving forward.”

Wagner, whose circuit includes Oconee and Anderson counties, said there are specific crimes impacting seniors that his office deals with more than others.

“Thefts of senior medication, checkbooks, where seniors have checkbooks lying on the table; stealing checks by people you know, including a grandchild, friend of a grandchild or neighbor — these are the things we’ve come to find from a court’s perspective,” Wagner said.

Krein said seniors should have a plan in case an emergency arises, such as what to do if injured and taken to the hospital. Krein said there are emergency volunteers who educate people on what to do and added that one special area of concern involves smoke detectors.

“This is what we emphasize in the home today,” Krein said. “In the ‘70s, we had about 10 minutes to get out of the home, but now we have about three minutes. If you don’t have a smoke detector, we’ll install one for you. Get used to putting your nightlight on the edge of the bed with your slippers so you know where it will be and can leave your home immediately instead of entering the closet and looking for them. Also, have a flashlight and put it on your nightstand if you have to evacuate. Time is of the essence.”

The event featured 12 agencies, including the Oconee County Humane Society, S.C. Lieutenant Governor’s Office on Aging, Aging and Disability Resource Center from the Lt. Governor’s Office on Aging and the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT).

State Rep. Thomas Alexander, who represents Oconee County and a portion of Pickens County, said the state couldn’t function without these and other partnerships.

“I want to be sure we’re doing what we need to at the state level to make them successful at the local level,” Alexander said. “It’s my prayer we have a one-stop shop for folks to see what services are available.”

Darryl Broome, director of the S.C. Lieutenant Governor’s Office on Aging, said this marked the first year, but not the last, for Senior P.R.E.P.

“To me, it’s just so important for folks to know the people in the community are committed to helping,” Broome said. “I just can’t say enough about the guests that showed up, their staff, the sheriff’s office. We’ll start meeting for the next one, and the only thing I would change is that, hopefully, the crowds will keep getting bigger and bigger.”

Oconee County Humane Society volunteer program coordinator Angel Newman said the agency was proud to be a part of the event.

“The connection with pets is important, but when you become a senior, having that love and compassion, that bond with a pet is vital,” Newman said. “We really encourage seniors to have pets and are glad to do anything we can to help them.”

Walhalla resident Martha Wright said she enjoyed the event but was disappointed more people didn’t show up.

“When you have a seminar, I think people need to get out and help themselves,” Wright said.

Fellow Walhalla resident Annette Birney agreed, adding, “All seniors need to be aware of this program for next year, because they’re going to be holding it again.” | (864) 973-6687

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