It’s November. During this month, I can’t help but count my blessing and be thankful. I’m thankful that I have the opportunity to make a difference in Marion County. I’m thankful that I have an incredible staff to carry out the work, the advocacy, and the values and mission of the Marion County Board of Developmental Disabilities. And most importantly, I’m thankful to live in a community that has a renewed sense of pride in itself and the people who live and work here. This gives me hope that this community will support us as we move our people forward. After all, we are part of this community and we are MarionMade!
Of course, after Thanksgiving, comes Christmas, then the New Year. It seems like a good time for “newness” to finally appear at the Beidler Center. The process has been long, but we have broken ground and are moving forward with the updates that are desperately needed in that space. If you see our commissioners out and about, thank them for their support in getting this process going.
We all know that with construction also come some inconveniences. There will be dust, noise, and disruption. The parking lot and hallways will be a bit cluttered and congested – for this, we apologize. But please remember that in the end, we will have the space that we need and those who have relocated (in some cases, several times), been working in closets, warehouses, and strange spaces will finally have a place to call home. Everyone deserves that, so please bear with us as the necessary updates progress. The construction will play out in phases and we hope to have everything complete by mid-February. Thank you in advance for your cooperation and patience.
If you are asked why we are spending money on these renovations, let your friends and community members know that once we privatized the space had to be renovated to create a functional office environment for staff. The renovations were critical to accommodate our employees who were relocated from the Marca facility into a space that was not originally designed for offices.
With the New Year also comes hope. Our 169 Board passed a resolution at this month’s board meeting for a 3.25 mill, five-year levy. This gives me the hope that this first step will result in new funds that will allow us to continually provide for those we serve. With the blessing of the Board, we can take this resolution to the County Commissioners and ask to be placed on the ballot on May 8, 2018. I am working hard to get on the Commissioners’ agenda to gain approval so we can move through the additional necessary steps to confidentially tell the community that we will be on the ballot in May.
The passage of this new levy is critical to those we serve and our community in general. A 3.25 mill new levy will cost a homeowner less than $100/year on a $100,000 home. This is such a small price to pay to help those we serve to move forward, find jobs, integrate into our community, receive early intervention, get support from a Service and Support Administrator and simply be part of our community. We have cut services and resources to stay operational; this levy passage only maintains the services we are currently providing. We will continue to reduce our budget where possible to provide as much support as possible.
The goal is to be at a point in the future where we can add more help and resources to those we serve, but at this point, we could be cutting camps, transportation, therapy, respite, and more. It’s simply not fair to those we serve to be hurt by past lack of support. It is up to us to continue to advocate for them and to put all of our efforts into gaining community support and working to pass the levy. I challenge each of you to tell ten of your friends and family members the facts about what we do, tell them a story of success from the work you have done, tell them to tell ten of their friends, and tell them how critically important their vote is to this community. I know you do this, but do it louder, more often, and with the passion, I know you have in you.
Next year, is the year of hope and inclusion for MCBDD and I’m confident that we can do what needs to be done to continue to advocate for our people.
Cheryl Plaster, Superintendent