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Rehabilitation Center Forced to Close Despite Rally

By: Penny Moss Email
By: Penny Moss Email

For 55 years, people with disabilities have turned to the West Virginia Rehabilitation Center for help, but all that will change at the end of June.

The residential center provides valuable job training to enable its clients to get jobs, pay taxes and be independent.

The residential center will close because it didn't get the funding to remain open.

Residents rallied at the capitol Monday during a legislative interim session trying to get lawmakers on board in their efforts to keep the facility open. There is no facility like it in the state.

The problem is, the state budget for the next year has long been signed and sealed without the six million dollars the center was asking for.

That lack of funding led to a tough decision. The residential treatment center for 200 disabled students seeking job training will close June 30.

That's a tough sell for people like Shannon Martin, who says she owes her independence today, to the skills she learned at the rehab center.

“I don't want assistance, a check, welfare, I want to earn my money,” Martin said, “I want to teach my children, when I have them, good values and good morals.”

The budget for the rehabilitation center and its 200 residents was nearly $12 million the last fiscal year.

Administrators made the decision that money would help more people if it's distributed to the Division of Rehabilitation Services' 29 offices throughout the state, which will bring more services to local communities and to serve more people, closer to home.

Teachers joining in this rally are still holding out hope that somehow the money to keep the center open, will show up.

There are currently 3,500 people on the waiting list to receive services.

“I don't think people realize what all goes on at the center in the way of serving students,” business education teacher Verona Sampson said.

Center spokeswoman Tracy Carr said this center is just one of nine of its kind in the country and states are just moving away from this type of facility.

Carr also said some services will still be offered in institute, but the residential program will close at the end of the month.


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