In January of 1956, a group of parents—with the Huron County School superintendent, Health Department and welfare director—organized the Huron County Council for Retarded Children.
It incorporated in 1957.
In the fall of 1956, the first classroom was set up at the former Children’s Home in Norwalk. It was furnished by the Huron County Commissioners.
That first class had 12 children, one teacher and one aide. Parents provided transportation to and from school.
In 1959, a part-time home visitor was added to the teaching staff.
George Lawrence, Director of the Huron County Welfare Department, was the first administrator, as the program was under the supervision of the Ohio Welfare Department.
October 1967: Senate Bill 169 created county boards of mental retardation to take over responsibility for education and workshop programs previously run by child welfare or public welfare boards.
The voters of Huron County generously passed the first Operating Levy (.4 mill) in 1967, the first local funding for the program.
Sewell Cameron became the school’s second administrator in 1968. He was a leading force in the efforts to construct the school building.
The Board of Mental Retardation submitted a successful Bond Issue in 1968, and the land for the school was provided by the Huron County Commissioners. The state of Ohio provided matching funds.
In 1960, there were three classes, with 33 students.
Until 1963, parents paid for part of the transportation; in 1965, the Huron County Commissioners began operation of the buses.
In 1964, the Huron County Council for Retarded Children began considering a Bond Issue to build and equip a new building.
In February of 1967, a written request was submitted to the Huron County Commissioners to submit a tax levy of .4 of one mill and a bond issue to the voters.
The initial site for the school was on Christie Avenue, but was changed to the current location on South Norwalk Road West because of space requirements.
The Board advertised a “Name the School” contest in February 1969.
Fourth-grader Julie Millhouse’s suggestion of “Christie Lane School” was chosen from more than 600 submitted.
Julie told her mother that she didn’t think her name was actually very good, and that one of her friends had a better one. Her picture remains on display in the original school building on South Norwalk Road.
In 1969, adult activities started in the Huron County Human Services building on Benedict Avenue in Norwalk.
In 1970, the Adult Activities Center moved to North Foster Street in Norwalk.
That same year, the youth group CHRIS-YARCS was formed, providing social activities for both children and adults involved with Christie Lane.
June 27, 1971: Ground-breaking ceremonies for Christie Lane School on South Norwalk Road West.
October 15, 1972: Open House at Christie Lane School. Many community members attended.
In 1972, Adult Day Services moved to Christie Lane School’s building.
Marion Waits, the third program administrator, was hired on August 1, 1975.
Federal law in 1975 mandated that children with disabilities receive a “free and appropriate education.”
Christie Lane Industries, the adult day sheltered workshop program, incorporated in 1976.
State-funded, supervised apartment living was established by the Erie Shores Group in the late 1970s.
In 1979, the Board began an Infant Stimulation Program. It later became the Early Intervention Program, which was eventually housed at the Elizabeth Gerken Family & Child Center on Shady Lane in the 1990s.
The building that became the home of Christie Lane Industries on South Norwalk Road West was built in 1981.
The first group home for adults with disabilities was established in Huron County in 1985 and was run by Renaissance House, Inc.
Kenneth DePaola, the program’s fourth administrator, was hired on July 1, 1987.
Supported Living Services became available in 1989 to those eligible for services through the Huron County Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities.
The Family Initiatives housing board was established in 1989.
The Ohio Department of MR/DD turned over the administration of the Individual Options waivers to county boards. 60% of the funding continued to be provided by the state of Ohio, and 40% by local levy funds.
Community Employment services expanded in 1995, from one staff working part-time to two full-time staff.
Staff specialists worked with local businesses to secure jobs for people with disabilities, and helped to support them at their worksites.
The Christie Lane School’s adaptive playground equipment was installed without cost to the Board in 1997, thanks to the donated time of a local carpenter and school staff.
1998: The Huron County Board of MR/DD established an after-hours Community Recreation program.
The Health Care Financing Administration approved the Individual Options (IO) waiver in 1991. These were the first Home and Community Based waivers available in Huron County.
The IO waivers provided funding that helped to pay for supports for people with disabilities at home and at work, as well as for transportation services.
In 1991, Christie Lane began to offer Community Employment services under a part-time Workshop Specialist.
Dee Zeffiro-Krenisky, Ed.D., the fifth administrator of the Huron County Board of MR/DD, was hired July 1, 1995.
Summer 1995: The Elizabeth Gerken Family & Child Center opened on Shady Lane; the Early Intervention Program moved to that location soon afterwards.
2000: The Ohio Self Determination Association was formed.
Eagle Scout Dustin Hindel completed the construction of the Christie Lane School pavilion that year.
Person-Centered Planning (PCP) began in 2000 for the adults served through Christie Lane Industries. The focus of PCP was on the strengths, wants and needs of the individual…recognizing that every person is unique.
2001: Christie Lane Industries began the Interoffice Mail Delivery Services throughout the county offices.
As a result of House Bill 94, Christie Lane established a habilitation department (Community Support) in 2002.
Individual Budgeting, in conjunction with Person-Centered Planning, began at the end of 2006.
2007: Construction of the patio off the back of CLI was completed without cost to the Board, thanks to the donation of time and efforts of skilled tradesmen and staff member Carol Stoll.
Christie Lane was awarded the entire Help Me Grow grant in 2007.
2007: Community Employment began a Community Recycling crew, and worked together with CLI to further expand the CLI Document Destruction business.
Employment First was launched in Ohio in 2012 to help people earn more money and become more a part of their communities.
Thank you—all of you—for your support of our programs and services over the past 50 years.
Whatever the future holds, the Huron County Board of DD will remain committed to the lives of people with disabilities and their families.
Here’s to another 50…and more!
In 2004, the Community Employment department took on the job of expanding the CLI Document Destruction business.
Artists’ Open Studio launched in 2004 through the efforts of Lynda Stoneham. It offered a place for people with and without disabilities to create fine art within a supportive environment. The studio helped artists to express themselves, and to sell their artwork if they chose to do so.
Bill Young, another talented area artist, started a Ceramics Studio soon after AOS was created. In 2007, Bill and the artists he supported began producing ceramic tile at CLI.
2006: Christie Lane was awarded a component of the Help Me Grow grant, providing service coordination to the children and families eligible under the grant.
HCBDD partnered with Mercy Willard Hospital to open Higher Grounds Coffee Shop on the hospital’s main floor in 2012, providing jobs for people with disabilities.
In 2013, Ohio was ranked 10th in the country for effectively providing Medicaid services to people with disabilities and their families.
Kari Smith, the sixth administrator of the Huron County Board of DD, was hired January 1, 2015.
July 1, 2016: Due to state and federal rules, HCBDD’s sheltered workshop, Christie Lane Industries, became a private provider of adult day services.
The county board continues to provide and pay for a multitude of services to adults and children with disabilities.