Chances are you know someone who is served by the Hancock County Board of Developmental Disabilities and its Blanchard Valley Center. At any one time, at least 600 clients are receiving some sort of supportive service through the center.

Clients range from babies to senior citizens. Some go to school at the center’s school on East Sandusky Street, some live in one of the group homes behind the school, and some are employed in factories and stores throughout the community. They all live, work and play among us.

“Our business is people,” BVC Superintendent Kelli Grisham said. “We make a big push to include our people out in the community. I’ve found this to be a very caring place for those with developmental disabilities. I think that says a lot about Hancock County.”

The center is seeking renewal of one of its two operating levies in the May 7 primary election. The 2.5-mill, five-year property tax assessment generates about $4 million annually.

The other levy, a 1.9-mill property tax, provides about $3 million, with state and federal funding adding $2 million toward the center’s $9 million annual operating budget.

The levies fund much of what the center does, including operating the school and paying for various client services offered through about 60 independent agencies and businesses, including the KanDu studio on West Main Cross Street. Although KanDu is now operated as a nonprofit agency, the board retains ownership of the building, which was purchased and renovated at a cost of about $2.5 million.

By privatizing what was previously known as Blanchard Valley Industries, the center has reduced some operating costs but still provides part of the service cost for each client. The move has also freed up space on the center’s campus, as the BVI building has been renovated and now houses all board offices.

The interior of the main school building which houses K-12 and preschool programs will be renovated this summer for the first time in decades. A new sensory motor room, climbing wall, bathrooms, and heating and cooling system will be among the upgrades.

BVC levies traditionally receive strong support at the ballot box. The most recent one was approved with 80 percent of the vote. This election should be no different.

The center’s body of work remains one of the best features of Hancock County. We urge voters to continue to support those with developmental disabilities by voting yes on Issue 9.

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