GREENE COUNTY, TN (WJHL) – The place of employment for hundreds of people in the Tri-Cities will stay open almost a year longer than expected. Greene Valley Developmental Center is the last state-run institution for people with disabilities and one of the largest employers in Greene County.
The state set its closure date for December of this year, but in a letter sent Wednesday night to employees the state said it will now stay open in to 2017.
The hundreds of employees still working at Greene Valley, have been told it would close in June of this year, then that was pushed back to December, and now it’s set to close in Spring of 2017.
Back in January of 2015, dozens of people protested to keep Greene Valley from closing. But now, the question isn’t if Greene Valley will close but when.
“I’ve been telling the state this for several years that it’s going to take a longer time to transition residents into the community then they’ve set a time frame to do so,” Rep. David Hawk (R-Greeneville) said.
In the letter sent to employees, the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities sent to employees this week, it said challenges came up in building some of the private homes for residents transitioning out of Greene Valley. And because of that, Greene Valley will stay open until Spring of 2017.
The DIDD commissioner said in the letter that as they transition residents out of Greene Valley they will also reduce staffing.
DIDD spokesperson Cara Kumari said in a statement: “A significant percentage of employees working with persons supported at GVDC will have the opportunity to accompany them into their new community home and become employees of the private agency.”
The letter also praised the employees and thanked them for their work.
“The commissioner is praising the state employees because there is a legitimate fear that some state employees could leave Greene Valley and find other employment before closure,” Hawk said.
We asked DIDD if this is a concern, Kumari said throughout the closure Greene Valley has kept a staff consistent with the needs of the center, saying:
“This information is reviewed continuously by both local and central administrators at DIDD to ensure that continuity of care is never in doubt. As has been the case in each institution closing previous to Greene Valley, we remain confident that persons receiving services will continue to enjoy the same level of care as they have for the duration of their service history. ”
As far as staying open past the new Spring 2017 deadline, “We’ll cross that bridge when we get there but there is certainly a potential that that could happen,” Hawk said.
The state is closing Greene Valley as part of a lawsuit settlement. Kumari said DIDD will have to notify a federal judge to extend is closure date to Spring of 2017.
The following is a statement from the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities:
We very recently learned that challenges have arisen that will cause the delay of the final construction of some of the private homes being built for current Greene Valley Developmental Center residents.
As a result some of those homes will not be finished in time to meet the current December 31, 2016 closure deadline.
To that end, in the near future we will exercise a provision of the Order approving the Exit Plan to extend the deadline for closing Greene Valley, which will provide the additional time needed to complete construction of all of the private homes.
As a result of these delays, some of the persons scheduled to transition from Greene Valley Developmental Center in the late fall and winter of 2016 will instead transition in the early spring of 2017.
DIDD is committed to ensuring the safe and orderly transition of persons leaving GVDC.