Residents question EDI closure date

LISBON – While the Columbiana County Board of Developmental Disabilities continues to transition toward the closing of EDI-South in Calcutta, some parents continued to argue the move on Wednesday.

Barb Bussard spoke before the board Wednesday concerned after learning earlier in the day Superintendent Bill Devon plans to send another bus, which used to pick up students bound for EDI-South, instead to EDI-Central starting Aug. 25.

Bussard said last month parents were led to believe the decision to close EDI-South was not going to be done until the end of the 2014-2015 school year.

Devon was asked by board member Michael Parkes about how it would be determined which clients would be on the bus headed to EDI-Central. The superintendent replied it had to do with realigning some of the bus routes. For instance two people living in the same area should go to the same facility. Currently, two people on the same street can be sent to two different facilities.

Devon also said those families transporting their own family member can continue to drive them to EDI-South until the facility closes. At that point, Devon said there may need to be another alternative facility for some of those families, who for various reasons cannot or will not send between 10 and 18 clients on buses to EDI-Central.

“We need to find a different, alternative in the southern half of the county, a place for them,” Devon said.

It was noted by Devon that perhaps there would be another type of facility, not operated by the BDD.

Bussard also spoke about some other concerns, such as the decision to close EDI-South not being part of the board’s strategic plan. Additionally, she said she has spoke to someone at Employment First, who said there is no mandate to close sheltered workshops at this time. Bussard said it is five to 10 years down the road when more clients will have to be working out in the community.

Additionally, Bussard said families do not understand the need for money savings in the closure, which is predicted by Devon to be $400,000. She points out the BDD has an $8 million surplus.

Devon has in the past explained much of the BDD’s carryover balance is used to cover client’s waivers needed to provide for the care of clients even after their parents are gone.

In order to help with the transition, Devon announced an orientation tour of the EDI-Central facility is being planned for July 29. Other tours can be scheduled by calling Holly Adams, 424-7711.

In other matters before the board:

– The board agreed to lease two vans to Employment Development Inc. and one to the Education Service Center. The vans are being used for the non-medical transport of clients to worksites.

– The board agreed to create two part-time Help Me Grow service coordinator positions, which will work no more than 28 hours per week at an hourly rate of $10.50. Devon told the board the wages for the employees are covered by a grant.

– The board created a temporary position of service and support administrator, so a person can be trained now for an expected retirement of a longtime employee in November.

– No meeting is planned for the month of August.