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Residents express concern over the closing of Bellefontaine Habilitation Center

February 21, 2006
By: Kathryn Buschman
State Capital Bureau

Opponents to the governor's plan to close the Bellefontaine Habilitation Center in St. Louis gathered Tuesday at the capitol to discuss possible repercussions to the closing.

Kathryn Buschman has more from Jefferson City.

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Governor Blunt announced his plans to close the facility which houses developmentally disable patients last January.

Illinois closed a similar center in 2002 and within ten days of moving six patients died.

Opponents told reporters that they feared the same would happen in Missouri.

Governor spokeswoman, Jessica Robinson, said patients have already been moved successfully.

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Contents: "Lets just go back to the fact that we have successfully moved 86 patients and again that is why this is not an overnight process that's something that we're working with community partnerships in some situations patients have been successfully moved over into other state- owned facilities."

In his state address last year, Blunt said that by closing the center the state would save 13.8 million dollars.

From Jefferson City, I am Kathryn Buschman

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A group of residents expressed concern at the capitol Tuesday over the governor's plan to close the Bellefontaine Habilitation Center in St. Louis.

Kathryn Buschman has more from Jefferson City.

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The Bellefontaine Habilitation Center houses over 100 patients with mental retardation and developmental issues. Citing repeated reports of abuse Governor Blunt called for the centers closing last year.

Norma Lingle whose son has been at the center for 40 years says the center is a good place for her son.

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Contents: "The governor is very very wrong and he refuses to back down I would never advocate my son to be kept anywhere where he was in prison or where he was not well treated."

The facility will be downsizing over the next year and will is expected to be closed in five years.

From the state capitol, I am Kathryn Buschman.