Families, Supporters of Grand Junction Regional Center: "We Can Do This"

By: Tim Ciesco Email
By: Tim Ciesco Email

The fight to keep a local facility for the developmentally disabled open continued Tuesday night, as families, friends, and supporters of the Grand Junction Regional Center laid out plans to change the State's mind about closing it down.

Roughly 70 people showed up to a public meeting about the issue Tuesday night, to express their concerns about forcing 32 people with very special needs to relocate. Families of those residents say they're worried their loved ones will die if they leave the facility because other organizations in the community aren't equipped to provide the round the clock care they need.

During the meeting, State Representative Steve King read a letter he plans to deliver to Governor Ritter Wednesday, asking him to find other places to make budget cuts and to leave the Medicare rated 5 Star facility open.

Organizers of the meeting also urged supporters to call and write to state leaders, asking for a special session of the legislature to address the budget cuts or an extension to the February 2010 closing date set for the facility.

"I think the Governor needs to be open to other options and other possibilities, and to new information," said King. "Because I don't honestly believe he had the best information when he made the decision to cut a five star facility."

"We have got a lot of passion here, we have got a lot of caring, we've got a lot of love," said Bob Pena, whose sister lives at the Grand Junction Regional Center. "I think we can do this."

The Governor's office has said the facility was targeted because it believed those services could be provided by other organizations within the community. Officials say the closure of the state-funded facility -- which includes the elimination of 57 full time employees -- would save the state $1.3 million this fiscal year, and millions more in the future.

The group, Parents and Friends of the Grand Junction Regional Center, says it will hold a rally in support of the facility on September 8, 2009. The rally will take place at noon in front of the Old County Courthouse.


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