With volunteers' help, girls shelter to reopen

EAST PALESTINE -- Thanks partly to volunteer labor, progress is being made on reopening a home for troubled girls that was closed last year during Columbiana County's budget crunch.
The Kyes Group Home at 465 N. Market St. is expected to open sometime late next month, said Eileen Dray-Bardon, director of the county job and family services department, which oversees the home.
Kyes closed its doors in June 2000, a victim of last year's budget crisis that was brought on by voters' decision in May 1999 not to renew the county's 1 percent sales tax.
Loss of the tax and the nearly $6 million in revenue it produced annually meant the county was unable to come up with money to help keep the home open.
Voters restored the tax in November. They also adopted a 0.75-mill, 5-year levy that produces about $940,000 annually. Part of the levy money is being used to reopen Kyes and keep it running.
Hard work: Putting the home back in operation requires more than simply opening the doors.
Nearly $30,000 of levy money is being spent to make repairs on the nearly 100-year-old house, such as replacing windows and doors, repairing the roof and porch and updating the electrical wiring.
The county hired professionals to do those jobs.
But it's relying on volunteers, including those from area church and civic groups, to spruce up the old house.
Volunteers are painting rooms, hanging wallpaper, planting shrubs and making curtains.
"I think it will look great. All these folks are taking a personal interest in this," Dray-Bardon said. "We've got it pretty well covered in terms of sprucing the place up."
Dray-Bardon said the willingness of volunteers to step forward to fix up the home has been gratifying. "We've had widespread support," she added.
Jobs: Before the home reopens, the county must hire staff to run the facility. That may include hiring some of the former staff members who were laid off when Kyes closed.
Once the home is reopened, Dray-Bardon said she expects to have a staff consisting of a supervisor, two full-time and four part-time employees.
Kyes' mission is to provide a temporary home for up to 10 girls ages 6 to 18 who have been placed in the county's custody by the courts. Many are victims of abuse or neglect.
After Kyes were closed, many girls who could have stayed there were sent to similar facilities throughout the state.

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