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Sheltered Workshop levy renewal on ballot

October 20, 2012
Morning Journal News

WEIRTON - Every day, the Hancock Laundry does hundreds of pounds of laundry for nursing homes, hospitals, hotels and other businesses in three states.

The laundry employs 80 people with disabilities and is operated by the Hancock County Sheltered Workshop, the non-profit agency that serves people with mental and physical handicaps in Hancock County.

Were it not for the bond levy that voters renew every four years, the Workshop would have a difficult time getting those employees to the laundry. Workshop Executive Director Michael B. Hagg said the levy, which generates about $250,000 a year, helps cover the cost of transporting disabled individuals to the laundry.

Article Photos

Charlie Thomas (left) and Jimmy Custer fold laundry at the Hancock Laundry, operated by the Hancock County Sheltered Workshop, which has a bond levy up for renewal on the Nov. 6 ballot. (Submitted Photo)

"It's a significant part of our budget," Hagg said. "Most of our clients are not able to provide transportation for themselves. If we didn't provide it, they wouldn't be able to attend. ... The levy goes a long way in providing those services."

The Workshop has five vans, with another on the way, and it provides one staff person for every two clients. "We provide a very safe and well-staffed environment," Hagg said.

On Nov. 6, Hancock County voters will once again have the chance to renew the Sheltered Workshop levy. By law, the levy must pass by 61 percent, and in the past, it's passed by as much as 68 percent.

"The residents of our county have always been tremendous in supporting our levy," Hagg said, noting that the levy involves no new taxes.

Hagg said the levy covers about 10 percent of the Workshop's annual $2.5 million budget. Most of the Workshop's budget comes from reimbursements through the West Virginia Division of Rehabilitation Services and the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, he said.

The Workshop makes some money from the laundry service, but most of the fees cover payroll, utilities and operating expenses, including the cost of maintaining and fueling seven trucks, Hagg said. Laundry personnel go as far as Beckley and Huntington to pick up laundry, he said.

Even though the Hancock Laundry does almost 3 million pounds of laundry a year, its main purpose is to provide employment for people with disabilities in Hancock County, Hagg said. Clients include people with autism, physical handicaps, multiple handicaps, traumatic brain injury and mental illness.

The Workshop also provides social activities for clients, pre-employment training, life skills training and vocational training in other fields. It also provides job referrals and job placement for clients, Hagg said.

The Workshop has custodial contracts in Hancock County and the Pittsburgh area that employ seven people, he said.



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