Strong support for maintaining the Tama County Career Development Center was at the forefront during a two-hour-long meeting held Tuesday night at the center in downtown Tama. Equally evident was solid backing for the current staff. About 15 consumers from across the county currently are provided services in Tama.
More than 30 family members, some of the consumers, county officials and the three-member staff were present to hear a presentation from Terry Johnson, CEO of Genesis Development, a non-profit organization accredited to provide services to adults with disabilities.
The meeting was prompted by the Jan. 16 announcement by Iowa Valley Continuing Education it would no longer be involved in the center operations effective June 30.
The Tama County Career Development Center in downtown Tama.
News-Herald file/John Speer
Iowa Valley cited funding for the services "not keeping pace" and changes in Medicaid of which Iowa Valley has chosen not to be a provider prompted the decision to pull out.
As a result, a new accredited overseer is needed for the center to continue to operate. Iowa Valley's tenure in overseeing the Career Development Center is believed to extend back until at least the 1980s officials said in January.
What is comes down to in the end is a decision by The Arc of Tama County as to whom will operate the center, Todd Rickert, administrator of the Tama County Central Point of Coordination office told the group Tuesday night.
Arc owns the building and has leased it to the Career Development Center for one dollar a year. John Willett, Tama attorney and a long-time Arc board member, told The News-Herald in January that the arrangement would continue to be offered.
Another informational meeting with another accredited organization is to be scheduled. This came after some of those in attendance expressed a desire to compare what could be offered.
Genesis Development is a now familiar name in Tama County. The provider assumed operation of the former Tama County Care Facility at rural Toledo in 2010, renaming it Pheasant Ridge Care Facility.
Johnson said Tuesday if Genesis is chosen to take over the operation and his board of directors accepts, "We are not here to mess up people's lives."
He said a decision on choosing a new operator should be made by March 1 to assure programs can continue without disruption.
Some residents attending questioned Johnson about changes which could take place in the programs offered.
He said the transition would promote "continuity" and the present staff would hopefully accept positions with the new management.
Johnson said he met with staff members Berlene Wobeter, Missy Massengale and Theresa Vodhodchodsky for two hours prior to the Tuesday night meeting.
He said one of their concerns were benefits. They are currently state employees and this status would change if the non-profit Genesis assumed the responsibility for the operation.
Genesis operates five Discovery Center currently across the state which provide similar services to adults with disabilities as does the Tama center, Johnson said.