Thursday, June 3, 2004

Close 2 centers for disabled, panel urges

Taft had ordered move to save money

The Associated Press

COLUMBUS - The state should proceed with the closing of two centers for the mentally retarded and disabled, according to a report by a legislative committee created to review the closings.

The report says the Department of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities provided sufficient evidence of its need to close Springview Developmental Center in Springfield and Apple Creek Developmental Center near Wooster.

"Given the difficult and tenuous nature of what will happen during and after the closures, we found that the planning and execution of this decision to date to be correct and that it is an ever-changing process," the report said.

Two members of the committee, representing state employees and family members of those served by the centers, disagreed and said the centers should remain open.

The state is already serving only those people with the greatest needs and has kept those numbers steady over 10 years, the dissenting members said.

Gov. Bob Taft, who is not required to follow the report's conclusions, ordered the closing of the centers last year to help balance the budget.

Lawmakers responded by creating a commission that would review those and future closings.

Taft is reviewing the report, which was released Monday, said spokesman Orest Holubec.

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