MEDICINE LODGE — Gossiping seniors sparked concerns at a southwest Kansas apartment complex, causing a housing authority director to complain to the Department of Housing and Urban Development before temporarily closing the facility's community room.
Melvin Fluke, executive director of the Medicine Lodge Housing Authority, worried that the gossiping at Indian Hills Plaza, an apartment complex for seniors, was upsetting residents. So he called for an end to the gossip sessions that were happening in the plaza's community room. And when the idle chatter didn't stop, Fluke complained to HUD officials.
"This is the first time this type of complaint has ever come to our attention," Dale Gray, a spokeswoman with the regional HUD office in Kansas City, Kan., said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday. "As far as we can remember, gossip has not been an issue."
Gray said HUD officials left it up to the Medicine Lodge Housing Authority board to handle the problem. The board decided the surest way to shut down the gossip sessions was to close the community room, blocking its entrance with a makeshift barricade. Gray said Fluke plans to reopen the room today after a meeting with Indian Hills Plaza residents on Tuesday.
"Everyone realized (gossip) does hurt feelings, and they need to be a little more sensitive about that," Gray said.
Fluke said that the gossip had "stirred up a hornet's nest." He said he was concerned about one resident in particular who was upset about the gossip.
"It was gossiping, point blank, to the point this individual is about to have a nervous breakdown and is in the process of moving out," Fluke said.
Dean Earnest, who has lived at Indian Hills Plaza for 12 years, said he didn't appreciate being shut out of the community room because of a few gossiping people.
"We've paid rent to be able to visit in there," he said.
Another resident, Bobbie Wright, said she likes to go to the community room to work on a puzzle or read.
"I don't want to listen to gossip," said Wright, 73. "When it's about my friends, I leave."