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OHIO Union to fight closings of 2 MRDD facilities



Published: Sat, February 8, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



Ten other developmental centers, including one in Mineral Ridge, will remain open.

By JEFF ORTEGA

VINDICATOR CORRESPONDENT

COLUMBUS -- The head of the union that represents employees at Apple Creek and Springview developmental centers, both slated to close because of the state's budget crunch, says workers will fight the proposed shutdowns.

Monty Blanton, president of the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association section that covers developmental centers, said the union would be lobbying legislators over the next few weeks to press their case.

"What we're going to do is influence legislators to get them to understand," Blanton said Wednesday, just moments after state officials announced Apple Creek in Wayne County and Springview in Clark County would close because of the state's budget problems.

Reason for shutdowns

The Ohio Department of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities said operating costs and reimbursements, capital needs and demand for admissions pointed to the two centers for closure.

The state's 10 other developmental centers are in Mineral Ridge in Trumbull County, Toledo, Cambridge, Columbus, Gallipolis, Huber Heights, Mount Vernon, Batavia, Tiffin and Highland Hills.

State officials are proposing the closings as part of Republican Gov. Bob Taft's, $49.1 billion, two-year executive budget proposal pending before the Legislature.

If state lawmakers approve the plan, however, Springview wouldn't close until June 30, 2005, while Apple Creek wouldn't close until June 30, 2006, said Kenneth W. Ritchey, the state's MRDD director.

MRDD officials plan to offer residents at the centers a choice about living in another developmental center or be transitioned to a community setting. The department also plans to offer employees opportunities to transfer to other centers.

Details of centers

Department officials said Apple Creek is in the most need of capital replacement for both buildings and infrastructure. The developmental center has about 180 residents and 381 employees.

Department officials said Springview, which serves about 90 residents and has about 180 employees, has the smallest residential population of any of the state's 12 centers.

Springview was among the state's oldest centers and one of the most financially subsidized, the department added.

Apple Creek dates back to 1931 while Springview dates to 1910.

"We don't have the money in our budget to keep the centers running," Ritchey said.

Ritchey said it's tough to predict how much will be saved by phasing out the two centers until he knows what employees will do and what residents of the centers will do.

Apple Creek's operating budget is about $24 million a year while Springview's is about $11 million a year, Ritchey added.

Blanton said care for the residents at the two centers will suffer with the closings.

"It's not about the employees losing the positions," Blanton said. "It's about the service they're providing an individual."

The last closing of an MRDD center was in the early 1990s.




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