Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Group home controversial in small town

First off with this story I would like all concerned disability advocates to stand behind this issue and the Poston's as it could be any one of us in this situation and to try to contact these people showing your support. This is just so wrong on so many levels.

Write letters of support to the "Editor of the Tribune" at editor@tribmail.com or call into Trib Talk at: 815-1776 and make your voice and opinions on this matter known.
HALLSVILLE - When a privately operated group home for the developmentally disabled opened in a subdivision of this town, some neighboring residents worried it might be a drug rehab center, a halfway house for released prisoners or a mental health facility.

Developer Larry Douglas contends the group home violates the Douglas Pointe subdivision covenant against businesses and is not a single-family dwelling as stipulated by the city’s zoning ordinance.

"There’s a need for this, I know," Douglas said of the group home after a Nov. 10 Hallsville Board of Aldermen meeting. "I just don’t think it needs to be in a subdivision."

The owners of the home, Wayne and Mandi Poston, contend rumors are brewing opposition.

Wayne Poston said today the group home does not violate the zoning code - a position shared by city officials. Two men are already living in the home, and a third is to move in tomorrow. "It’s their home; that’s where they’re living," he said. "We’ve got a family in there. It’s the only family that they have."

Hallsville City Administrator Bob Hipple said state law allows group and foster homes in single-family zones but the home’s owner must show they are licensed by the state and meet all city, county and fire codes.

The Postons hope to iron out differences with Douglas Pointe residents in a private meeting tonight at the Hallsville Community Center. Subdivision co-developer and meeting organizer Ruth Ann Douglas said the meeting is only for subdivision residents and not open to the public.

The Postons own Show-Me Health Care, which also owns an independent living center and another group home on Elizabeth Street in Hallsville. The group home is on the former site of a nursing home that was owned by Poston’s aunt.

"We’re a social service company, and that’s it," Wayne Poston told the aldermen and a handful of residents last week.

"We provide what" clients "need to be successful in the community," Mandi Poston said at the aldermen’s meeting. Residents of the home "are not threatening in any way, shape or form."

Rumors and opposition to the group home are based on "ignorance," she added. "I personally believe there’s probably more dysfunction behind some peoples’ doors than we have in our home. It’s really, truly, none of your business" who is living in the group home, what disability they have or how much money the home is paid by the Missouri Department of Mental Health for services.

"I feel like it’s a discrimination thing," Mandi Poston said.

Douglas contends people are moving out of the subdivision "because of this."

But Wayne Poston said those folks "were moving out of there way before we got there."

Wayne Poston, who has been around Hallsville since 1970, has 10 years of experience as a health-care administrator in the Lake of the Ozarks region.

He moved back to Hallsville in 1994 and began operating Show-Me Health Care in 2004.

He said Show-Me Health Care has 35 employees in Hallsville, the second-leading employer in the town behind the Hallsville School District.

The meeting tonight will be an effort to address rumors, he said. "We’re doing this out of courtesy," he added.

Poston compared his operations to similar group home elsewhere, including those operated by NBA Woodhaven in Columbia. Woodhaven serves 106 people in Mid-Missouri and has 48 separate residential homes, apartments and condominiums for its clients.


Together we shall stand as one voice always speaking up for those who cannot speak up for themselves.

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