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New Developmental Disabilities habitation program center opens

Feb. 27, 2013 @ 12:07 AM

SYBENE, Ohio -- The former Lawrence County senior center building along County Road 1 has a new purpose as a half-dozen adults in the county's Developmental Disabilities habitation program moved there starting this week.

"We're using a phased-in approach," said Paul Mollet, superintendent of the county's developmental disabilities program. "We have six adults here this week. We'll eventually get to about 60 adults being here on a daily basis. It'll take three months or longer. It's a new environment for them."

For years the site was used for senior services. The Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization had to close the senior program at the building last year due to a cuts in state and federal funding. The organization then agreed to lease the building to the county department of developmental disabilities for $1 a year.

The department serves more than 500 adults and children with developmental disabilities at three sites. Starting Monday, the former senior center building became a fourth site. Other sites include Tri-State Industries, the Open Door School in Ironton and the Early Childhood Center in Sheridan, Ohio.

The adults are being transitioned from the Tri-State Industries building in Coal Grove, said Josh Tackett, workshop director. "We want to focus on work at Tri-State. This gives us a place for people to come who don't want to work."

The renovated building will be used for adult daily living opportunities including self-help skills such as cooking and hygiene, Mollet said. Most of the people participating in the habitation programs will be bused in Monday through Friday.

Amber Hickman, a habitation manager, will be splitting her time between the building and Tri-State Industries.

"We do different activities," Hickman said Tuesday during an open house at the building in the Sybene area. "They have classes and recreational activities. The goal is to have them make better choices and to make things better for them. We work on individualized goals and living skills."

The clients also could be taught cooking or money management skills, Mollet said. They'll also have access to crafts, games and exercise equipment, he said.

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