Monday, April 16, 2012

Enumclaw Patch Reports On Rainier Work

Roach Looks Ahead to Rainier School Study After Securing $3 Million for Capital Improvements

After placing the $3 million in funding for Rainier School Renovation Project into the Senate capital budget this week, Sen. Pam Roach continues to build support for the residential habilitation center in Buckley.

• By April Chan

• April 14, 2012

News that $3 million was headed toward a renovation project at the Rainier School in Buckley as part of a "Jobs Now" package passed by the state legislature was greeted with enthusiasm this week by local leaders including Rep. Christopher Hurst and Buckley Mayor Pat Johnson (read the story).

Meanwhile, it was actually Sen. Pam Roach who put the item in the Senate-passed capital budget. The money will be used to improve living quarters and supporting facilities, said a press release issued Friday from Roach's office.

"It was what I wanted if they wanted my vote," she said.

Roach, who in June 2010 (see her blog), formed an ad hoc committee to promote and save Rainier School from frequent efforts to close it and has for the last several years worked to secure the position of the Buckley facility.

"Pierce County wanted to tear down the facility and use it as a juvenile detention center," she said. "A threat of closure has been in existence for many years and putting the $3 million in that capital investment will help secure Rainier School."

With the state now investing in the physical condition of the Rainier School, Roach turns her attention toward the Rainier School Vision Development Committee that, though a funded study, will “create and submit to the legislature a long-range community vision and development plan for the efficient use of the Rainier School facility to best serve the needs of persons with developmental disabilities, including the establishment of a respite care center for families and other caregivers of persons with developmental disabilities.” The vision statement will be presented to the legislature and the Department of Social and Health Services.

The study committee consists of several stakeholders:

• The three legislators representing the 31st district;

• Two persons representing the cities of Enumclaw and Buckley;

• Two persons representing the chambers of commerce of Enumclaw and Buckley;

• Two persons representing the “Friends of Rainier School” organization; and

• One person representing the Pierce county developmental disabilities board.

In March, Roach announced that $100,000 was appropriated in a then Senate-passed bipartisan 2012 supplemental operating budget (read that announcement) for this purpose.

The final version of the operating budget passed this week now sets aside $600,000 for the project. Roach said she believes her 31st District colleague Hurst helped to increase the dollar amount. "While I had the language of the study committee, I do think he had something to do with that," she said. "I'll give him credit for that."

With the budget now with Gov. Chris Gregoire for review -- and vulnerable to section vetoes -- Roach said she hopes the funding for the study remains intact.

Meanwhile, she has held several community meetings and developed a common vision statement for Rainier School "about all the things we've thought of for Rainier School: how do you make it more viable, how can it be better integrated into the community, what services are offered at Rainier School and for the larger community of the developmentally disabled."

Roach said the effort to establish the long-term vision for Rainier School goes beyond the Plateau community. "I'm excited about it and I think it takes this kind of effort to put Rainier School on the map," she said.

Roach's past work has involved the support of many leaders in Pierce County, including the entire Pierce County delegation in the state legislature, she said. "Beyond that, we need the vision statement and the integrated thinking of the state legislature and DSHS."

Read more:

Sen. Roach's website with a Rainier School white paper (also linked to this story), fact sheet, FAQ and background on the Olmstead Decision over the rights of individuals to with disabilities to live in their community)

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