OTTAWA — With the May primary election less than a month away,
campaign signs and billboards are popping up faster than daffodils. A
sign that you will not see officially is one which promotes a 1.6 mill
levy to support existing services at Brookhill Center and Industries.
to Bill Clifford, Superintendent for the Putnam County Board of
Developmental Disabilities, the decision was made to spread the word via
flyers, face-to-face meetings and an open house on April 25 from 11
a.m. to 2 p.m. which will include tours as well as a lunch that will be
served until 1 p.m.
“I think getting the word out about what we do
is important,” said Clifford. “Most every Putnam County citizen knows
the name ‘Brookhill Center.’ When they go by our buildings, they know
it’s where some of the folks with developmental disabilities do
services. But what happens inside these buildings is probably foreign to
the general population.”
There are two facets of service provided
at Brookhill Center and Industries. The early intervention program is
headquartered in the northeast building on the campus located at the
junction of State Routes 115 and 108. Early intervention is geared for
children age birth to three.
“We work with infants and toddlers,
but as importantly, we work with those family members so when the
services aren’t delivered here, the physical, speech or occupational
therapies, then family members can emulate what’s going on in the homes.
The goal is that by the time they’re age three, we at Brookhill never
see them again. That’s not to say that happens with everyone, but many
of those infants and toddlers, it was just enough intervention to get
them over the hump.”
Brookhill Center serves about 130 adults. Out of that 130, about 100 are receiving services directly at Brookhill Industries.
the day that Clifford was interviewed, there was a noticeable
difference in noise level and atmosphere between the two buildings.
Clifford explained that the noise level is higher at Brookhill
Industries because of the factory-type setting.
“You have about
100 individuals in a cavernous area,” he said, adding that the Early
Intervention and Family Services building includes more classroom
settings. “We have early intervention at one end, and down further are
adults who either aren’t working today, choose not to work, are retired,
or they have such sever cognitive and physical limitations they need
specialized services. We have five settings like that in this building.”
primary focus at Brookhill Center has been sheltered employment.
According to Clifford, more effort is being given now to community
employment. Brookhill Industries employees build a number of items and
parts for local manufacturers, everything from the small notches squares
of cardboard that pad the corners of washers and dryers to refrigerator
shelving. One are of the building is devoted to building wooden
“We’re also working closely with public schools in a
transition-to-work program.” During the summer of 2013, participants in
that program worked in a variety of Putnam County locations, including
the Meadows of Kalida and the YMCA in Ottawa. The 2014 school-to-work
program is already underway.
Clifford said the Putnam County Board
of Developmental Disabilities decided to seek a levy for several
reasons. The Brookhill Center and Industries buildings are over 35 years
old. All individuals who are served by the center require bus
transportation, with the exception of infants who are driven to and from
by their parents. There are over five bus routes that travel over 800
miles a day.
“In the last five years, the State of Ohio reduced
assistance to our program and every governmental entity. We lose about
$400,000 a year now,” said Clifford. “You have a choice as a county
board. You can reduce services, retool and be more efficient at what you
do, or go back to the local taxpayers. This program has always had the
distinction of lean and mean—there’s not a lot of anything essential
Sixty percent of Brookhill Center’s funding comes from
local dollars, he said, adding that the levy will cost each Putnam
County taxpayers $56 for every $100,000 home value. Thirty percent of
the center’s funding comes from Medicaid, and ten percent is from the
state. PCDD operates six group homes in the county in various
communities. Any time someone is in the home, a staff member must be
there. Individuals who are able to live on their own still have need of
drop-in staff. Others still have high emotional needs which require
Despite the scope of its outreach, Clifford
said Brookhill Center and Industries is a small program compared to
those in other Ohio counties. PCDD shares a business manager with Van
Wert County. Clifford himself is part-time.
“I would say we’re second to none in terms of what we provide,” he said.