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Friday, February 8th, 2008

The Center for Neurological Development adding on

By Margie Wuebker

Troy Muhlenkamp of Muhlenkamp Building Corp. checks the level on a new doorway i. . .

BURKETTSVILLE - A 3,000-square-foot addition is currently under construction at The Center for Neurological Development and it represents several years of planning and commitment to helping others.
Included in the 35-foot by 83-foot addition, located at the west side of the current building, is a large therapy room complete with in-floor trampoline and a long carpeted area where clients can creep/crawl without interruption.
A state-of-art tactile program will be established in another part, with various modalities using the sense of touch as a therapeutic means of reaching the brain. Another staff member will be hired to assist clients.
Other features include a handicapped accessible bathroom equipped with a shower, an evaluation room and offices for director Joan Kiser and assistant director Zelda Zizelman.
"The new addition opens up a lot of possibilities including new equipment as well as better arrangement of the equipment we currently have," Kiser says. "Clients with balance problems will certainly benefit from the walk-on trampoline."
With 45 clients on the roster and four more awaiting evaluation, the non-profit facility's four therapy rooms are used to capacity Monday through Friday. The addition of a second tutor bumped evaluator Charles Burns from his office to a corner in the multipurpose room late last year while equipment stands in corners or along walls when not in use due to limited storage space.
The center's 12-member board of directors, headed by Jay Hogenkamp, began looking at various options including utilization of the building's second floor and the possible purchase of Franklin Township School currently owned by the Celina City Schools Board of Education.
Neither option proved viable.
The current building has no elevator to the unused second floor. Installation of such equipment would have eliminated much of the tutoring rooms and necessitated more staff to oversee clients using the upstairs.
"Franklin School is really nice but much larger than we need," Kiser says. In addition, the tentative price was beyond the reach of the program which operates on donations from business, fraternal organizations and individuals as well as fundraisers held throughout the year.
The board unanimously voted to proceed with an addition since it already owned the 1-acre tract of land surrounding the former Burkettsville Elementary School. A generous donation from a person who wishes to remain anonymous is defraying a portion of the cost. The donor reportedly made the gift to honor volunteers who give freely of their time to help adults and children dealing with brain and spinal cord problems.
Approximately 35 volunteers come each week and there is a legion of substitutes who step in on an as-needed basis. Clients receive no bill for the therapy they receive. Unlike physical therapy, neurological therapy such as patterning retrains unused brain cells to take over for damaged ones.
"More clients may be added but that is not why we proceeded with this project," Kiser says. "We needed more space for the numbers we currently have and room to add new equipment as well as programming. The addition is as big as we can go on the land we own."
Muhlenkamp Building Corp., the general contractor, submitted the $250,000 bid chosen by the board Oct. 15. Three trees planted by the Burkettsville Park Board were moved from the property and replanted elsewhere prior to the start of construction in late November.
With the addition under roof, workers have been busily laying block walls and tending to a myriad of duties despite inclement weather conditions. Brick will be applied to the exterior later as a mid-May completion date approaches.
The neurological center began operation June 11, 1984, at the former St. Peter School near Fort Recovery. The client roster reached eight by the end of the summer with the number of volunteers quickly growing from the original 11. Although adequate for the first 181/2 years, the program finally outgrew its structure.
The board initially looked at the Burkettsville school in November of 2000, focusing on how to make it accessible to the handicapped. Gaining state approval represented another hurdle, accomplished with the assistance of Mike Bruns, an engineer with Mote & Associates of Greenville and area legislators.
Board members agreed to purchase the building and 1 acre of land from the St. Henry Consolidated School District for a token $1. More than $100,000 was spent on improvements but many businesses, industries and individuals donated supplies as well as labor with the center opening for business at its new home Dec. 3, 2002.
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