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Richland County Board of DD celebrates 50 years

By Staff Report, Richland Source
Published Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Richland County Board of Developmental Disabilities (RCBDD) celebrated its golden anniversary Wednesday, 50 years to the day of the very first board meeting in 1967.

The celebration was part of the board’s regular monthly meeting, which took place at Richland Newhope’s Early Childhood Center – a facility that’s also celebrating its 50th anniversary this month.

On hand to mark the anniversary were Jeff Pfleiderer and his mother, Joan, and John Penney and his mother, Miriam. Jeff and John were among the first individuals to attend the Richland Newhope School, which is now the Early Childhood Center.

In 1967, Ohio’s 88 county boards of mental retardation were created by the Ohio General Assembly through amended Senate Bill 169. The county boards were established to raise funds and provide services and support to people with developmental disabilities, as well as further the training and education of professional personnel.

The newly-formed Richland County board assumed operations of Richland Newhope, a program for individuals with developmental disabilities that had roots dating back to the early 1950s. The first board members in 1967 were: Dr. Lawrence Thompson, chairman; Warren Rupp, vice-chairman; Dr. Gene DeLapa, treasurer; Zorayda Busson, secretary; Dr. Harold. J. King, David Ott, and Don Finefrock.

In 1980, amended Substitute Senate Bill 160 added the term ‘developmental disabilities’ to the board’s name and mandated that at least three board members must have a family member eligible for board services. Lawmakers removed the term ‘mental retardation’ in 2009.

The current members of the RCBDD are: Nick Gesouras, president; Steve Swank, vice-president; Richard Otto, secretary; Geneva Cummins, Margaret Davis, Virginia Harmon, and Michael Howard.

In 2016, Richland Newhope supported more than 1,700 individuals through early intervention, preschool, adult, residential, therapy, transportation, and other family support programs.

This article has been reproduced for educational purposes only and appeared in the Richland Source. The original story can be found at:

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