Com­mu­nity em­braces group home

Record Observer - - Community - By MIKE DAVIS mdavis@kibay­times.com

STEVENSVILLE — Com­ments such as wel­come, a good fit for the com­mu­nity and trans­parency were heard Wed­nes­day, April 13, as Stevensville res­i­dents gave their re­sound­ing ap­proval for a pro­posed new group home at 325 State Street. The dis­cus­sion was held at the Percy Thomas Se­nior Cen­ter and about 40 peo­ple at­tended.

The county has been talk­ing with Ch­ester­wye Cen­ter Inc., a lo­cal non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion that aids adults with de­vel­op­men­tal dis­abil­i­ties, about cre­at­ing a group home for clients on the site. This in­for­ma­tional meet­ing was a chance for pub­lic in­put.

With the $670,781.12 avail­able from the sec­ond Com­mu­nity Block De­vel­op­ment Grant that Queen Anne’s County re­ceived from the De­part­ment of Hous­ing and Com­mu­nity De­vel­op­ment, plans are to de­mol­ish the ex­ist­ing house and con­struct a new, 3,210-square-foot home. The house would in­clude four bed­rooms, three baths, laun­dry, kitchen, stor­age and an of­fice for a staff per­son. The fa­cil­ity would have 24-hour, seven days a week mon­i­tor­ing from a Ch­ester­wye em­ployee.

Ch­ester­wye Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor De­bra Langseth said the home would be de­signed for in­di­vid­u­als with “pretty sig­nif­i­cant phys­i­cal dis­abil­i­ties.” The home would have track­ing through­out the ceil­ings to lift clients from their wheelchairs into their beds, shower, onto a toi­let seat or any­where else needed. As for the kitchen and bath­room, some counter tops will be low­ered to aid peo­ple in wheelchairs. Langseth also said the house will have as many built in pieces as pos­si­ble, such as dressers and beds, to al­low max­i­mum room for ma­neu­ver­abil­ity.

Other ex­pected ex­pen­di­tures will be a gen­er­a­tor to pro­vide heat as well as also to pro­vide air flow through the hospi­tal beds some res­i­dents use to pre­vent pres­sure sores, as well as in­stalling a sprin­kler. De­spite a sprin­kler be­ing re­quired by plan­ning and zon­ing, Langseth said it is equally im­por­tant be­cause one of their nine homes caught fire in De­cem­ber. The new house would be the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s 10th home in the county.

The next steps needed to move the project for­ward in­clude a pub­lic hear­ing, sched­uled for 6:30 p.m. dur­ing the April 26 com­mis­sion meet­ing, the sign­ing a res­o­lu­tion nam­ing Ch­ester­wye the sub-re­cip­i­ent to the grant, and then sign­ing a 99-year lease agree­ment be­tween the county and Ch­ester­wye.

Stevensville res­i­dent Mike Ranelli said the fa­cil­ity is go­ing to be an as­set to the com­mu­nity.

“I wanted to take a sec­ond to re­ally thank the com­mis­sion­ers for not only lis­ten­ing to the com­mu­nity as far as find­ing an ap­pro­pri­ate use for the prop­erty but also in their strong ef­forts to be trans­par­ent in the process go­ing for­ward,” he said.

Ranelli wel­comed Ch­ester­wye on be­half of his neigh- bors to the com­mu­nity.

Other res­i­dents ex­pressed sim­i­lar sen­ti­ments. Dan Richard­son and his wife said the move is a great idea.

“My wife and I were pretty vo­cal to the com­mis­sion­ers about other plans, and we just ap­pre­ci­ate the open­ness for this to help our fel­low county res­i­dents that need a help­ing hand,” Richard­son said.

Stevensville res­i­dent Steve Pringle said he is ex­cited for the po­ten­tial move. “I’m thrilled to have you come to our com­mu­nity,” he said. “... We’d love if there’s any­thing we can do to con­tinue to show our sup­port, any vol­un­teer stuff, let us know.”

A list of vol­un­teer ac­tiv­i­ties will be pro­vided to the com­mu­nity, Langseth said. But for some peo­ple liv­ing in a Ch­ester­wye home that don’t have a fam­ily, she said, rec­og­niz­ing peo­ple on their birth­day or wish­ing some­one a happy hol­i­day are “very low ef­fort” ways for the com­mu­nity to be in­volved.

Kathy Dubel, who has a sis­ter liv­ing in a Ch­ester­wye home, said the or­ga­ni­za­tion has been terrific. “The peo­ple there and fam­i­lies and all of the work­ers and all of the clients are won­der­ful,” she said.

Once the lease is signed on April 26, build­ing plans will be fi­nal­ized; bids for con­struc­tion will go out by late sum­mer or early fall, County Ad­min­is­tra­tor Gregg Todd said.

“You will have a more en­riched life look­ing, act­ing with, in­ter­fac­ing with th­ese won­der­ful peo­ple be­cause I did and you are like me,” Com­mis­sioner Mark An­der­son said. “We have an op­por­tu­nity to re­ally make some­thing work well for all of us and I’m glad this worked out.”

Fol­low Mike Davis on Twit­ter: @mike_k­ibay­times.

PHOTOS BY MIKE DAVIS

Ch­ester­wye Cen­ter Inc. Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor De­bra Langseth, right, an­swers ques­tions about a group home planned for State Street dur­ing an in­for­ma­tional meet­ing at the Percy Thomas Se­nior Cen­ter on Wed­nes­day, April 13. At left is County Com­mis­sioner Mark An­der­son.

Paul Lom­bardo said the first house he bought in Queen Anne’s County was next to a Ch­ester­wye home and will be again if plans go through for the or­ga­ni­za­tion to ex­pand its ser­vices. Lom­bardo said, “Wel­come.”

Dan Richard­son of Stevensville said he was vo­cally op­posed to pre­vi­ous plans for the State Street prop­erty but thanked the com­mis­sion for its trans­parency and open-

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