Work begins on facility for children

The county auditor
explains new Homestead Exemption rules.



WARREN — Ground was broken Thursday for a new, more than $4 million Trumbull County Children Services facility.

The ceremony was held at the agency’s Reeves Road headquarters Thursday after the county commissioners’ weekly meeting.

Project architect Randall P. Baker, of Baker, Bednar & Associates Inc., of Howland, said there will be about $3.9 million in new construction with a total between $4.2 million and $4.5 million.

Marcia Tiger, agency executive director, said the children services board has been setting aside money annually, so $4.5 million is now in a capital improvement fund to pay for the project.

Baker explained that three cottages used to house children with emotional and behavioral difficulties will be combined into one building.

“We believe in keeping children close to home,” Tiger said, noting some counties send their children with emotional and behavioral problems to out-of-county facilities.

DeSalvo Construction Co. of Hubbard, the general contractor, is building a 20,000-square-foot, one-level residential facility that will replace the cottages by early summer 2008.

The design

It will include residential rooms and a multipurpose room that can serve as a gym and meeting room. There will be a commercial kitchen, in which all the food will be prepared then distributed to kitchens in the boys and girls sections, which each will have residential-type kitchens.

“We’re trying to make it like home,” Baker said, noting the children will be able to get their own snacks.

The design, Baker explained, will allow the staff members to keep an eye on the children because their offices are in the middle of the building. The wing design also makes for more efficient maintenance.

Tiger noted that staff members working to recruit foster families will be moved from the administration building into the residential facility so they can work more closely with the children.

One of the three cottages has been demolished. The other two will be razed when the new residential building is constructed.

As part of the project, the gym in the administration office building will be converted into storage and office space.

Program expanded

During the commissioners’ meeting, it was announced that the state Legislature has expanded the Homestead Exemption Program. County Auditor Adrian Biviano said residents 65 and older or who are permanently disabled homeowners will receive an exemption of $25,000 on the appraised value of their home from property taxes on a single-family residence, regardless of income.

The income limits under the former program have been eliminated.

Enrollment for new applicants who were previously not eligible started Monday and runs till to Oct. 1. Applicants can apply for the exemption in the year they turn 65, as long as they own and occupy the house as of Jan. 1 of the year they file.

Homeowners who are currently receiving the reduction will automatically be included in the expanded program and do not need to contact the auditor’s office, Biviano said.

He noted that members of his staff will be at Trumbull County Office of Elderly Affairs nutrition sites to assist seniors and disabled homeowners with the applications for about two weeks starting Wednesday.

The applications are available in all county libraries, many government buildings or at For more information, call (330) 675-2420.

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