The agency will next seek county commissioners' approval to hire an architect.
By NORMAN LEIGH
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
LISBON -- Work is expected to begin early next year on converting a former variety store into a facility for the physically and mentally handicapped.
The Columbiana County Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities recently bought the former Ben Franklin store along state Route 45 in Center Township, north of Lisbon.
The MRDD paid $379,000 for the 7,500-square-foot structure and intends to put about $600,000 into renovating it.
MRDD officials will be coming before county commissioners in the next few weeks to ask their approval to hire Studio Techne Inc. of Cleveland to serve as project architect, Gerald Baker, MRDD program superintendent, said Thursday.
If the contract is approved, the architect will be paid about $40,000 for the job.
Renovation: Details of the building's renovation are still being worked out, Baker added.
The structure will need restrooms accessible to the disabled, new interior walls and other improvements.
The MRDD will seek a $125,000 state grant to help pay for specialized equipment used in assisting employees in moving severely handicapped people, Baker said.
Construction is expected to take about a year.
Users: Once the facility's finished, it will be used for activities by mentally and physically handicapped adults whose disabilities are so severe that they are unable to do many other activities, such as be employed in the agency's workshops.
Also using the facility will be disabled senior citizens, many of whom have retired from MRDD workshops.
At the new facility, the seniors will be able to pursue activities such as knitting, cooking and playing games.
By creating the new facility, the MRDD is freeing up space in its two workshops for additional clients at those facilities.
The newly renovated building will be able to serve up to 60 clients.
Initially, staff will number about eight full-time employees, three of whom will be new workers. MRDD will transfer employees to round out the employee roster.
The MRDD is funding the building's purchase, the renovations, and its operation with property tax levy money, Baker said.