Sunday, November 3, 2002

Disabled hope MRDD levy survives vote

By Karen Vance
Enquirer contributor

OWENSVILLE - Bradley Forg of Amelia has multiple handicaps, uses a wheelchair, is unable to feed himself and suffers from seizures.

But the 17-year-old has access to the help he needs through the Clermont County Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities.

Thanks partly to the work he's done through MRDD since he was an infant and later at the Wildey School, he's able to communicate through buttons and switches and gets out of his wheelchair to walk daily.

"He's a happier person, and he's getting the one-on-one attention he needs," said his mother, Linda.

"He's learned to do things they never thought he would do," she said.

That's one reason she supports Issue 6 on the ballot in Clermont County on Tuesday.

It's a five-year, 1 mill levy and would raise $3.2 million, costing the owner of a $100,000 home $30 a year.

An existing 0.75-mill levy that has been on the books 10 years expires at the end of this year.

If the levy doesn't pass, the program would be without $2.1 million in its budget, said Libby Feck, director of administrative operations for MRDD.

And Mrs. Forg doesn't know what she'd do for her son without the program.

"I'd be devastated if we lost the program," she said.

"They've been a great help for my son, but also for me because they're an extended family and support group."

Claire Paff of Loveland can't imagine what life would be like for her 15-year-old son, Bryan, in a public school.

He's also severely mentally and physically handicapped. He is unable to talk and uses a wheelchair.

"I think it's amazing how they are with him at the school. They put emphasis on what little he can do," she said. "Every one of (the teachers) treats him the way I would want him to be treated at home. He's smiling a lot more and is happier."

There are another 52 people besides Bradley and Bryan with developmental disabilities waiting for similar services, but MRDD says it doesn't have the money to help them.

The levy would eliminate that waiting list as well as continue funding for existing programs, such as the Wildey School.

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