Senior center will honor judge-executive, former magistrate for service

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Buckner facility will be called the Duane Murner Senior Activities Center

By Laura Hagan

His name’s already on a plaque inside the county’s senior activity center, but soon, the outgoing judge-executive will have his name somewhere a little larger – the side of the building.
At a recent fiscal court meeting, Deputy Judge-Executive Paula Gish announced to the court the intention of the county to put Judge-Executive Duane Murner’s name on the county’s senior center activity building.
Before asking magistrates to vote on whether or not to approve the addition of Murner’s name to the center, Gish said she racked her brain thinking of a way to honor him for his service before he leaves office in January.
Before serving as judge-executive, Murner served as a magistrate and helped secure a grant and spearheaded the project.
Gish, who served with Murner as a magistrate as well, said he’s worked on the project since about 2005 but had no idea she planned to take a vote on adding his name to it, making it the Duane Murner Senior Activities Center.
Gish came up with the idea and spoke to magistrates and county maintenance director Bill Tucker before the most recent meeting.
“Nobody thought it was a bad idea,” she said.
And Murner knew nothing about it. When Gish moved to the podium he assumed she’d be presenting information on a different subject. When she said she had a second item, he looked at her in surprise.
“It’s hard (to surprise him),” Gish said. “He always knows what will be on the agenda. I feel this is one time I could pull a fast one.”
Murner said Monday he’s honored by the gesture and never expected he’d have a building with his name on it.
“Maybe a maintenance shed or something but nothing like this,” he joked.
During the time Murner worked on the project, the senior center added another building with meeting rooms, offices, a gym and exercise rooms. The completed addition opened in the fall of 2008.
“It’s a whole lot more usable than what we had before,” said Magistrate Rick Rash, who also served as magistrate during the same time as Murner and Gish.
Before, he said, it “wasn’t terribly functional.” Now, he said, it’s used significantly more.The center is run by the Tri-County Community Action Agency and offers games, fitness classes, meals, day trips, education and outreach programs, health promotions, counseling and information – about 100 people use the center each month on average, according to Anna Hopkins, site manager.
Gish said the only cost for adding Murner’s name to the building is the cost of letters, which is minor. They’ve been ordered and should take a few weeks to arrive.
She hopes to have a dedication ceremony sometime before the end of the year.
“This was something he was passionate about,” she said. I thought it’d be     appropriate.”

E-mail us about this story at: lhagan@oldhamera.com.