It was also a day for the Arc to recognize and honor Carroll County’s state delegation for its help, earlier this year, in preventing a state funds cut which could have slashed the center’s budget by about $200,000. That would have likely caused personnel cuts, and possibly a reduction in day services from five to four days per week.
“Some Colorado consulting group did a study and decided that the state of Georgia should cut rates to day programs,” said the training center's director, Richard Haliburton. “The results were so devastating that we couldn’t have operated.”
But Haliburton said Tuesday that it was through the help of state Reps. Dustin Hightower, Randy Nix and Kevin Cooke, along with state Sen. Mike Crane, that the center was able to retain its funding. He presented award plaques to the representatives to recognize their assistance. Crane was not present at the ceremony.
“This program holds a special place in my heart,” Hightower said, upon accepting the honor. “My cousin, Scott, is part of the program. He’s been a true blessing in my life and I’m glad to help any program he’s involved in.”
“We were honored to help in any way we could,” said Cooke. “Don’t hesitate to call if you need help.”
“We think of ourselves as public servants and we’re honored that you called us,” Nix said.
Haliburton also presented outgoing county commission Chairman Bill Chappell with a plaque, recognizing the county’s help with the center.
“He didn’t get a lot of credit for the things he did for us,” Haliburton said.
He said Chappell would often send a work crew out when the center needed help with something.
“It’s a wonderful program with wonderful people and the clients are great,” Chappell said. “I really do appreciate this.”
Haliburton had a plaque for Dr. Jack Birge, former county Board of Health chairman, who was not present at the luncheon.
“I want to thank Dr. Birge for all the years of service as board chairman,” Haliburton said. “He always went to bat for us.”
Early this year, the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities proposed a 20 percent cut in Medicaid payments for day services.
The proposal caused a huge public outcry from parents of clients and the community. More than 500 people, including 75 members of Carroll County Arc, attended a Jan. 26 Atlanta public hearing to protest the change. David A. Cook, commissioner of the Department of Community Health, asked the Georgia Board of Community Health to withhold any action on the rates, due to the sheer number of comments from the public.
Carroll Arc President Cindy Britt announced that the Friends of Arc group would use the money it has raised to do “extreme makeovers” of the center’s two group homes. The Friends group raises about $25,000 each year to buy items for the center, including computer software, cars, vans and exercise equipment.
The Carroll County Developmental Services Center, usually referred to as the Carroll County Training Center, was established in 1972 with the passage of the Community Services Act, a mechanism for state funding of community programs. The center is a sheltered workshop for clients with developmental disabilities.
Since its founding 40 years ago, the training center has grown to include community integration and volunteer opportunities, a food service program through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, art and music classes, a fitness club and a work training program that provides real-world work experiences through local community employers.