COUNTY BOARDS OF DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES
The Community SSA: A New Way of Supporting People
The BHN Alliance has become known for its out of the box thinking and strong belief that the least intrusive path is the most beneficial to bettering the lives of those with disabilities. One of the ways this shows is through the newly created Community SSA position.
Tracy Johnston, who serves in the role, works with people who meet eligibility requirements, but are living relatively independent lives in the community.
“We help people maintain the independence that they love and need without interfering in their lives,” Tracy said.
Tracy does this by acting as a liaison between the person and his or her respective life plans. That can mean coordinating a ride back and forth from work to finding someone a new place to live. Whether it is reaching out to other agencies or contacting community organizations, Tracy is there to support those who just need direction, a helping hand, and a bit of perspective.
Community SSA Tracy Johnston (right) is a friend that Junior can rely on to help him get the things he wants out of life.
Her work is a crucial part of the BHN Alliance vision and is the next step in the evolution of a more integrated and cutting-edge service delivery system across Belmont, Harrison, and Noble counties.
“This Community Support model emerged after we realized that many people just need a little assistance in getting what they want out of life,” said BHN Alliance Superintendent Stephen Williams. “We connect them with community resources without enrolling them in specific services they don’t want or need.”
Tracy sees herself as more than just another support to those eligible for services.
“My favorite part of the job is helping people understand that I am their friend and will help whenever they need. Whether it be just to talk or to help them connect to resources, I am there without being overly intrusive.”
And that’s what Tracy does each and every day.
A Message from the Superintendent
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Planning Guide for Ohio's Schools & Districts
EI Team Leader Receives OACB Award
Lori Wells, the Early Intervention Team Leader for the BHN Alliance, has received the Five-Star Customer Experience Award from the Ohio Association of County Boards of Developmental Disabilities.
The Five-Star Customer Experience Award recognizes a county board employee who goes above and beyond in supporting people served by their county board. Wells received the award at the 36th Annual OACB Convention on December 5, 2019 at Columbus.
Wells, who is the Early Intervention Team Leader for the BHN Alliance (Belmont-Harrison-Noble County Boards of Developmental Disabilities), is described as someone who has an acute understanding of what families need and goes above and beyond in service to them.
According to Holly Weatherson, EI Contract Manager for the BHN Alliance, Wells is “masterful” at supporting families, always willing to provide what they need, well beyond normal business hours. One of those needs is met through her credential as a Certified Infant Massage Therapist, a skill that can console babies dealing with the trauma of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome.
“Lori has defined what it means to provide specialized instruction to families whose infants and toddlers have disabilities or developmental delays,” Weatherson said. “She can relate to families and their challenges and is, in truth, their ally.”
As the EI Team Leader, Wells mentors and supports an entire team of developmental specialists and speech and language, occupational and physical therapists serving over 100 families with evidence-based early intervention supports.
Early Intervention is a statewide system that provides coordinated services to parents of infants and toddlers (ages birth to three) with disabilities or developmental delays in Ohio. To make a referral, call 1-800-755-4769.
Photo courtesy OACB
County Board Mourns Marlin Harper
The Belmont County Board of Developmental Disabilities is mourning the passing of its former president and long-time board member, Marlin Harper, who passed away suddenly on October 3, 2019.
Marlin was appointed to the Board in 2003, filling the unexpired term of Richard Heagin. Marlin went on to promote dignity and respect for people of all abilities for the next 14 years on the board. After his tenure ended, Marlin continued to show his support, founding the Rotary Club Fishing Tournament in Barnesville. Marlin had a heart for people of all abilities. He will be missed.
Marlin J. Harper, 70, of Barnesville died Thursday, October 3, 2019 at Wheeling Hospital. Marlin was born in Barnesville on July 9, 1949 to the late Jay S. Harper and Maxine E. (Thornberry) Harper-Ellison.
Marlin was a 1967 graduate of Barnesville High School, graduate of Ohio University and earned his Juris Doctor degree from Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. Marlin practiced law in St. Clairsville after graduating law school where he became partner. He then went on to open his own practice in Barnesville. He was a member and past president of the Barnesville Rotary, past Exalted Ruler of BPOE 1699, member of the Ohio Bar Association, Belmont County Bar Association, Village Solicitor for Barnesville, past Village Solicitor for Bethesda, and member of the Belmont Hills Country Club. He enjoyed traveling with his friends and family and playing golf. Marlin was extremely active with the Belmont County Board of Developmental Disabilities.
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his step-father, Galen Ellison; and longtime companion, Norma Kolar.
Marlin is survived by his cousins: Bob (Robin) Harper, Jon Jay (Tina) Harper, Becky (Bob) Selmon, Terri (Randy) Williams and Mike Thornberry; two grandsons: Stephen Markos and Evan Markos; Norma's children: Christi (Craig) Markos and Jim (Jill) Kolar; and many friends and cousins.
Visitation will be held on Tuesday, October 8, 2019 from 4-8pm at Campbell-Plumly-Milburn Funeral Home, 319 N. Chestnut St., Barnesville, Ohio with an Elks service at 7:45. The service will be held on Wednesday, October 9, 2019 at 11am with Ev. Kim McFarland officiating. Burial will follow in Crestview Cemetery.
Memorial contributions may be made in Marlin's name to the Belmont County Board of Developmental Disabilities., 68421 Hammond Rd., St. Clairsville, Ohio.
Special wish granted for a special boy
T-L Photo/ROBERT A. DEFRANK Rachel Johnson with son Grayson at St. Mary’s Community Center Tuesday as they visit the St. Clairsville Rotary Club.
By ROBERT A. DEFRANK
Times Leader Staff Writer
ST. CLAIRSVILLE — The generosity of area residents and businesses is helping grant a wish to a brave little boy.
Four-year-old Grayson Johnson of Freeport was at the St. Mary’s community center Tuesday with mother, Rachel, and older brother, Joseph. His father, Ken Johnson, was at work. The St. Clairsville Rotary Club made a donation to A Special Wish foundation to send the Johnson family to a beach vacation at Edisto Island in South Carolina Aug. 4 – 10. It will be Grayson’s first visit to the beach and his first vacation.
Rachel Johnson said the beach visit would be a welcome opportunity to rest and meet far-flung family members.
“He recently had open-heart surgery, four weeks ago,” she said. “He was granted a special wish and we chose to do a beach vacation. … We have family that live in South Carolina. We thought it’d be nice to visit family and relax as a family. … Just to be together as a family and rest and enjoy the serenity at the beach.”
Rachel Johnson said her son has been undergoing major surgery since his first six months of life. She said that Grayson was born with Down syndrome and three congenital heart defects, two holes in his heart, and other heart issues. Grayson was also born with Hirschprung disease, which affects the bowel.
“When he was born, he had 75 percent of his large intestine removed,” she said.
She said Grayson’s surgeries and other treatments took place at the Cleveland Clinic, meaning a great deal of travel and expense.
“Our lives are always so busy. Doctor’s appointments and the kids are busy and active,” she said.
“Since Grayson’s been born, we haven’t had the opportunity to have babysitters or people to watch him. My husband and I don’t get a lot of opportunities go go out together we haven’t had a vacation since Grayson was born. We’ve not been able to afford one or be able to go somewhere and just have help with him.”
“He’s very active,” she said. “Besides the medical expenses, he requires a lot of care. It’s more work than it is fun to go do stuff, so this special wish that’s being granted is a huge blessing. … An opportunity to be together and celebrate him getting past all this stuff.”
She said they will also visit Splash Zone, a water park on the island.
Rachel Johnson said they were referred to A Special Wish by Travis ‘the Terror’ Clark of St. Clairsville. The professional boxer has been working with Grayson on physical therapy and he has also helped A Special Wish in prior projects.
“We got close to Travis, and Travis really took a liking to Grayson. He called me one day after a Saturday session of personal training and let us know he wanted to nominate Grayson for a wish,” she said. “We’ve definitely been in contact with a few other families who have children going through similar surgeries and similar struggles, and that helps as a parent, knowing that someone else is going through the same thing and they understand.”
“I want to thank the Rotary Club and the Special Wish foundation. I think it’s incredible that people help and are so giving to strangers,” she said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to pass it forward to another family in the future.”
Alicia Freeman, executive director of A Special Wish, said one of her goals is to help their mission by establishing connections to the community.
“We’re grateful that Travis referred the family to us,” Freeman said. “Travis thought Grayson would be a perfect candidate for a wish and it worked out, and we’re very grateful and blessed that the St. Clairsville Rotary Club could donate and help sponsor this special wish for Grayson.”
Freeman said while the rotary club was the primary donor, some additional funding for the wish was still needed.
“I feel confident we will be able to fulfill the entire wish before they leave,” she said.
Freeman said the Rotary Club’s fundraising activities have benefited many in the community.
“We were very grateful we were on the club’s fundraising list,” she said. “They put a lot of work into raising those funds to donate back into the community.”
Doug McMullin, president of the St. Clairsville Rotary Club, said it was not his organization’s policy to release share the precise amount donated, but added they hold yearly fundraisers with the goal of making donations to worthy causes.
“Throughout the year we raise approximately $70,000 which we then just distribute throughout the community and internationally as well. We became aware of (A Special Wish) and it met all of our giving principles,” he said. “We were happy to help this family out…A Special Wish is the perfect candidate for us as a club to help. We’re able to give to them directly, they’re able to benefit from that directly, and I hope we’re able to do this again.”
Freeman also commended A Special Wish’s corporate partners, Belmont Savings Bank, Hoagy’s Heroes charity riders, Home Savings Bank, Harvey Goodman Realty.
“They are just wonderful to us,” she said.
“If anyone knows a child or a family that could use a wish, please reach out to use. We would love to help as many families as we can in the Ohio Valley,” she said.
For more information, to donate or to refer a child or family, call 740-449-2063 or visit www.spwishov.org.
Advocates Visit with State Rep
A number of self-advocates from Belmont County visited with State Rep. Don Jones (R-95th District) when they attended DD Awareness and Advocacy Day on March 5, 2019 in Columbus. These members of People First Belmont County Chapter discussed several issues with their legislator, including the need for more transportation options and more funding in the state budget for Direct Support Professionals,
who help people with daily living. Pictured with the legislator, from left: Pat Jobb of Martins Ferry, Greg Hocking, Fairview; Rep. Jones; Tommie Lindell of Barnesville, and Mary Lou Kent, advisor of People First.
Belmont DD Board Receives Three-Year Accreditation
The Belmont County Board of Developmental Disabilities has been accredited by the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities for the quality of services provided to county residents.
A six-member team from the state department completed a comprehensive review in November that included interviews with individuals and families who receive supports. A three-year accreditation was earned, the maximum possible term.
Superintendent Stephen Williams credited the successful review to the way the Board views what it does.
“Relationships are the foundation of quality supports and that is our focus in everything we do,” Williams said. “We recognize the uniqueness of every person and family served and that means we are better able to help them get what they want out of life.”
The Board coordinates supports for more than 500 eligible children and adults with developmental disabilities. Supports include early intervention (birth to age three), school-age assistance, transition from school to work (ages 14 to 22), job-related training and employment, residential, transportation, and respite.
BHN Superintendent Receives Leadership Award
Stephen L. Williams, Superintendent of the Belmont, Harrison and Noble County Boards of Developmental Disabilities, has received the 2018 Kenneth Legats Visionary Leadership Award from the Ohio Association of County Boards of Developmental Disabilities.
The award is presented annually to an executive who, over a career of more than 20 years, has shown high ideals, vision, and moral leadership in the administration of services for people with developmental disabilities.
Williams received the award at the OACB 35th annual convention in Columbus on November 30, 2018.
“I am humbled and grateful to be recognized in this way, but awards aren’t individual in nature,” Williams said. “I have a great team that strives to provide the best possible service to the people we support.”
In the nomination, Williams was described as “a thoughtful and passionate leader who is focused on building teams, enhancing relationships and ensuring success for the future. Through his humor, calm and focus, he brings out the best of those around him and always leads with an eye on the future and long-term success.”
Williams began his career with the Belmont County Board of DD in 1988 as a case manager, working in various leadership positions through the years until being named Superintendent of the Belmont, Harrison and Noble County Boards of Developmental Disabilities (BHN Alliance) in 2012. He is the only superintendent in Ohio who serves as superintendent of three county boards of developmental disabilities.
COUNTY BOARDS OF DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES
County Boards of DD Mark 50 Years of Support
The Ohio Legislature created a unique and vital resource for people with developmental disabilities in 1967 and that resource continues to be a lifelong support 50 years later.
Always There 50 YearsOhio’s County Boards of Developmental Disabilities are celebrating their 50th Anniversary in 2017. The year-long theme - Always There - reflects the continuity of support, promotion of opportunity and history of partnership county boards have offered to the people they serve throughout the past, in the present and in the future.
Throughout the next year, the Belmont, Harrison and Noble County Boards of Developmental Disabilities (BHN Alliance) will be sharing stories of what people are achieving in their community.
“Our goal with any effort like this is to build awareness and understanding around what people with disabilities are achieving and how we are there to support their efforts,” said BHN Alliance Superintendent Stephen Williams.
County Boards are responsible for the coordination and funding of quality supports and services people need and this can begin at birth and continue throughout a person’s entire life. Supports funded or provided by the county boards include early intervention for infants and toddlers with developmental delays; transition services to help young adults successfully move from school to work; job-related skill training and employment for adults; and personal growth, residential and transportation services.
Williams noted that some people have intensive needs requiring constant care while others are more independent, living, working and contributing to their community with minimal supports from the County Board.
“We believe in the inherent right of all people to make their own decisions about what they want out of life,” Williams said. “Our mission then is to be there as a support as they seek what matters the most to them.”
The BHN Alliance is a partnership between the three county boards that share a person-centered approach to identifying, coordinating and delivering supports to more than 700 eligible children and adults in Belmont, Harrison and Noble counties.
Wellness initiative kicks off this fall
The Wellness Fund is a reimbursement grant designed to support the wellness goals of people with disabilities across Belmont, Harrison and Noble counties.
The fund operates as a grant. People choose what they would like to do, sign up and pay for the activity and then submit receipts/paid invoices to the County Board for reimbursement. It’s that simple.
The Wellness Fund provides reimbursement for activities like:
Fitness facilities / gyms / pools
Weight loss programs [Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, etc.]
Healthy Cooking Classes
Smoking cessation programs
Registration fees for healthy walks/runs
Fitness classes like yoga, Zumba and others
Community team activities like softball, Pickleball, etc.
“The people we support are interested in healthy living and the Wellness Fund will provide a means for them to get active by joining community-based health and fitness activities,” said BHN Alliance Superintendent Stephen Williams.
If you are a person served by the Belmont, Harrison or Noble County Boards of Developmental Disabilities and would like to learn more, contact the Service and Support Department at 740-695-7433.