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Elder Statesmen : Balloting is ahead for county representatives to the California Senior Legislature, which recommends priority bills to lawmakers.

February 04, 1993|ROBYN LOEWENTHAL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

On March 9, the Ventura County Area Agency on Aging will again coordinate local biennial elections to select three county senior citizen representatives for the 1993-95 term of the California Senior Legislature (CSL).

The CSL, consisting of 80 Senior Assembly members and 40 senior senators, provides more than 3 1/2 million older Californians with an opportunity to focus attention on the welfare of seniors and to advance legislation on their behalf. During its annual session in Sacramento, CSL members develop priority bills that are presented to the California Legislature as recommendations.

Current representatives from Ventura County are Joe Gaynes, senior senator, and Maxine Culp and Lee Strohbehn, both Senior Assembly members.

Polling sites will be established and announced in senior communities around the county. To qualify for the CSL ballot, an applicant must be 60 or older and a registered voter in the county. Also, he or she must have completed and filed a petition by Dec. 23 with the signatures of at least 50 permanent residents of Ventura County who are also over 60 and registered to vote.

In addition to its work for the California State Legislature, the Ventura County Area Agency on Aging (VCAAA) is mandated under the federal Older Americans Act to provide social services to help seniors maintain maximum at-home independence and prevent premature or unnecessary institutionalization.

The VCAAA was organized in 1980 as a single county agency and is governed by the Ventura County Board of Supervisors. The agency's Advisory Council is composed of elected and appointed representatives from each city's commission or council on aging and other senior groups. The Advisory Council makes recommendations regarding policy, programs and funding to the Board of Supervisors.

To serve the county's 86,000 residents who are age 60 and older, the VCAAA develops, coordinates and administers funds from the Federal Older Americans Act, as well as state, county and community resources. In 1991-92, more than $3 million was spent on programs such as day-care centers, senior nutrition sites, in-home services, case management projects, access and transportation, legal assistance, elder-abuse prevention, care-giver support and health screening.

This support is crucial because 30% of the county's age-60-and-older population is over age 75. This group is the fastest-growing segment of Ventura County's population and the most frail according to VCAAA representatives. And 1990 U.S. Census Bureau figures show that more than one-third of county residents over age 75 live alone.

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The Stagecoach Inn Museum's eight-week docent-training class begins today, 9:30 a.m. to noon. Volunteers will learn how to teach the area's Chumash Indian, Spanish/Mexican and pioneer history. The fee is $15. For details, call Isabel Lee, (818) 889-1738.

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Se habla Espanol aqui . Seniors are invited to attend free Spanish and exercise classes this month at Castle Hill Retirement Village, 3575 N. Moorpark Road in Thousand Oaks. Spanish for Beginners will meet at 1 p.m. on Feb. 5, 12, 19 and 26. Rejuvenation and Relaxation will be held at 10:15 a.m. on Feb. 11, 18 and 25. Space is limited. For reservations, call (805) 492-2471.

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Your language skills are a valuable community resource. The Retired Senior Volunteer Program of Oxnard is seeking bilingual volunteers to help in the Nuestro program at St. John's Regional Medical Center, the information desk at Ventura County Medical Center, and in other capacities. If you would like to become an RSVP volunteer or want more information, call (805) 984-4647.

* WHERE AND WHEN

The Ventura County Area Agency on Aging is at 505 Poli St. in Ventura. For information on any senior issue or to obtain referrals to services, call 652-7560. Most cities in the county have a local commission or council on aging that addresses senior needs and issues at the community level. If you are interested in being considered for appointment to the panel as a volunteer member, contact your city hall for details.

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