Voters renew workshop levy

NEW CUMBERLAND–The Hancock County Sheltered Workshop levy sailed to victory Tuesday by a healthy margin.

The levy received 68.5 percent of the vote–well more than the necessary 60 percent. An estimated 8,295 residents voted for the levy, while 3,806 voted against it, according to unofficial results from the Hancock County Clerk’s Office.

Workshop Executive Director Michael B. Hagg said the margin of victory exceeded his expectations.

“We always say: We’re one of the best-kept secrets in Hancock County,” he said. “We got very positive media coverage and were able to show the residents what we do, which is provide jobs and training activities for people with disabilities.”

In 2012, the last time the voters renewed the levy, the margin of victory was about 63 percent. “To go up by 5 percent is very rewarding,” Hagg said.

The levy, which raises about $250,000 toward the workshop’s annual budget of $3.1 million, helps especially with the cost of transporting clients who work at the Hancock Laundry in Weirton, Hagg said.

Clients are picked up from all over the county–Chester, Newell, New Manchester, New Cumberland, Weirton and all points in between. They include people with autism, physical handicaps, multiple handicaps, traumatic brain injury and mental illness.

With Tuesday’s levy renewal, the current rate of taxation–0.80 cents per $100 of assessed value of owner-occupied property and 1.61 cents per $100 of assessed value of personal property (cars, boats, rentals)–will apply for the next four years.

Although the sheltered workshop opened its doors in 1958, the laundry operation goes back only 17 years. Previously, clients did contract work for area steel mills and other employers, but the focus shifted to a commercial laundry in the late 1990s, Hagg said.