Opportunity Center art highlighted

Creative art expression has continued to be the focus at the Opportunity Center for those from 5 to 22 years old. Seneca County Board of Developmental Disabilities members viewed displays and heard of accomplishments during a meeting Tuesday afternoon.

Artist Patti Mitchell first visited the facility to spark an interest in art for students and show off their creations. Children’s Services Director Rick Gagnon and Adult Services Director Rod Biggert continued that sense of accomplishment in May with the help of Beth Smith. Artwork first drawn on paper by students was enlarged and transferred to other mediums, including old sheets and towels and wood. Smith and her husband cut out the wood pictures and students painted them. They also applied color to the drawings on the material items which Smith transformed into quilts.

The creations were on display during Tiffin’s Music and Arts Festival, and Biggert has scheduled participation during the Jazz Festival. Other outreach options are the Heritage Festival, a temporary storefront downtown and involving public school students in the program. Selling items as fundraisers is being considered.

“The experience was very unique, for the adults as well, you saw the entire emotional energy of their faces change. I saw students who you don’t think you are ever going to reach just get in there and participate,” Biggert said.

Teachers and students have discussed providing the art expression classes with Smith at least once monthly.

Biggert and Superintendent Lew Hurst spoke about the Employment First Initiative in the state. Hurst said everyone has abilities, skills and talents to enrich the community. Every person should expect that community employment is the preferred outcome for working age adults with developmental disabilities. Biggert said more collaboration and communication between agencies is necessary for the transition from the school program to the adult program. Students learn about employment options and planning during their school years. The use of mobile technology apps assisting with prompts and job tasks is now available.

Gagnon said six new students are enrolled next school year, bringing the total to 49.

Ron Davidson said the bus fleet is being prepared for the annual state inspection while many summer activities continue to be in need of transportation. Staff members are working to meet requirements for Zonar, the onboard computer system. He mentioned the possibility of installing an air-conditioning system in buses lacking that comfort.

Janet Vay informed board members that new certification rules from the state have been implemented for adult services, early intervention, support and services advocates and superintendents by July 1. She said substitute class B bus drivers are being sought and 95 of the 124 employees participated in the recent health fair at the Opportunity Center.

New recycled rubber mulch has been applied to the playground for safety.

In other business, the board:

Heard the Opportunity Center family picnic is 6 p.m. July 11.

Approved the financial report.

Heard Support and Services Director Nyoka Craddolph resigned her position effective in May and the center hopes to have the position filled by Aug. 1.

Accepted the ethics’ council report approving a new supported living contract.

Approved an appropriation of $7,000 in the Early Childhood Center of Fostoria operating fund increasing reserve funds for replacement of an HVAC compressor and repairs to the parking lot.

Approved employment contracts for Williams, director of business operations; Davidson, director of transportation, and Vay, director of human resources.

Approved the annual agreement with Seneca Re-ad Industries Inc.

Approved the adjustment to wage ranges developed and recommended by Dublin Management Group, classified employee benefit changes for 2013-14, and adjustment to substitute rates and stipends as recommended by the personnel committee.

The board is to meet at 5 p.m. July 9.