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Cooperation helps YDC site find new role

The foresight demonstrated by Mahoning County officials, Western Reserve Port Authority and other local leaders to take over and utilize a now-vacant former state facility in Austintown will have wonderful benefits for local people needing help.

The former Youngstown Developmental Center on County Line Road near the Weathersfield Township border, which formerly housed developmentally disabled adults, closed under the Gov. John Kasich administration in June 2017. Since then, it has remained vacant.

But earlier this year, Mahoning County commissioners approved purchase of the facility for $1, transferring ownership from the state to the Mahoning County Mental Health and Recovery Board. The Western Reserve Port Authority has agreed to manage the site that ultimately will be utilized by eight entities to provide services to clients. Those agencies include Easter Seals, Alta, Compass, Meridian Services, Flying High, Potential Development and Homes for Kids.

Together, they will comprise the new “Campus of Care.”

The campus includes 10 buildings sitting on 35 acres. In addition to the largest building — formerly the central training facility — there is a service building with a commercial kitchen, an administrative building with a clinic and several residential buildings with kitchens, bedrooms, dining rooms and office spaces. The campus is dotted with gazebos and walking trails.

Though it has been vacant since 2017 when the state closed the center, the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities has maintained it, recently investing $1.1 million to fix the underground power system.

Overall, officials have said the campus is in good shape, but in need of some care.

Then, just last week state Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan, D-Youngstown, announced that the State Controlling Board awarded $500,000 for programs and improvements to the facility.

The board is giving the money to Alta Care Group Inc. and the Mahoning County Mental Health and Recovery Board to renovate an existing building and to work with children who have addiction and mental health problems, as well as provide Head Start services. Certainly, all these uses are of the utmost importance in helping our young people overcome their struggles.

Once it’s fully operational, the campus is expected to serve clients from Mahoning and Trumbull counties, along with others from outside the area.

In January, when the transfer from the state to the county was complete, Mahoning County Commissioner Carol Rimedio-Righetti said, “There is no other place that will offer the wrap-around services we will be offering here.”

Indeed, it is a unique opportunity to serve our area’s needy.

It was largely the commissioners and other county and state officials and elected leaders who were instrumental in pushing the effort for the good of our community.

It was a sad day when Ohio closed this beautiful campus, displacing many disabled and needy residents who for years had called the buildings their home. Now, through a wonderful cooperative effort, this facility’s purpose and usefulness will continue.

editorial@tribtoday.com

SCRIPTURE

What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?

Romans 8:31-32 NLT

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