Officials agreed to replace the air-conditioning unit at a county department.
By NORMAN LEIGH
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
LISBON -- Mentally and physically disabled seniors could have a new facility for activities if Columbiana County commissioners approve buying a building.
William Devon, business manager for the Columbiana County Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, asked commissioners Wednesday to approve the $379,000 purchase of the former Ben Franklin store along state Route 45 in Center Township, north of Lisbon.
The vacant building is owned by Dean and Clara Rose of Lisbon.
Commissioners said they will consider the proposal, but they first want the MRDD board to get an appraisal of the 7,500-square-foot structure to ensure that it's worth the price.
Devon said the agency, which is funded through property tax levies and state and federal money, has enough saved to buy the building and pay for nearly $500,000 in renovations. The facility could open sometime in 2002.
The structure would need restrooms accessible to the disabled, new interior walls and other improvements.
The MRDD board considered building a new facility, but that would have cost about $1.3 million, Devon said.
Use: The building would be used by mentally and physically disabled seniors, many of whom have retired from MRDD workshops, where they have been employed for years, Devon said.
The MRDD board tries to provide activities such as knitting, cooking and playing games.
Right now, senior activities are conducted at the MRDD's two workshops. But as the number of seniors under the MRDD's care grows, a separate building is necessary, Devon said.
About 45 people are expected to use the facility initially. That number could increase to about 80 within the next few years, Devon said.
Air conditioning: In other business, commissioners agreed to hire someone as soon as possible to install a new central air-conditioning system at the county job and family services department on Nelson Street.
The 30-year-old unit recently broke down, leaving many employees sweltering during this week's heat, Commissioner Jim Hoppel said.
Hoppel estimated it will cost about $45,000 to install new air conditioning.
County officials aren't certain yet where the funding will come from, although the county's capital improvements fund probably will supply some of the money, Hoppel said.