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Dozens of Portage employees out of work after county abides by federal mandate six years early

Posted at 8:17 AM, Apr 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-19 16:43:57-04

A federal mandate left 30 people in Portage County without a job Wednesday night.

The federal government made a decision years ago that county boards for developmental disabilities are no longer allowed to provide direct services to clients.

Employees at Portage Industries, a resource center for people with developmental disabilities, lost their jobs Wednesday night.

"We provide vocational services, we help them with their work habilitation services, feeding," said employee Margaret Beichler.

This all comes six years before the federal mandate had to be upheld, and by the end of May, Beichler and 29 other employees will have to find work elsewhere after the Portage County Board of Developmental Disabilities voted to finalize the terminations on Wednesday.

"A lot of our people are very accustomed to us, and they know us and they trust us and the parents trust us," she said.

Superintendent of the board Gina Brown says the decisions were made before her time.

"I don’t know why it wasn’t set up to go through 2024, when I became superintendent in September the resolution had already been passed," she said.

The board tabled the issue of severance or retirement packages.

The employees who lost their jobs can apply for positions with the new employers that are taking over Portage Industries, but their salaries will be significantly reduced.