GREENEVILLE, TN (WJHL)- One of the largest employers in Greene County is set to close in three months.
Hundreds of people still work at Greene Valley Developmental Center, the last state-run institution for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Cara Kumari, spokesperson for the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities said about 354 still work there.
“Whenever you lose that amount of jobs that have been that key in your community it has a negative impact,” Greene County Mayor David Crum said.
Dozens of people still call Greene Valley home, and for some, they’ve had the same caregivers for decades. Now both the employees and residents have to transition out.
“My heart goes out to all the people that work for Greene Valley and I hope that they all transition into East Tennessee Community Homes or other positions where they are able to utilize their talent,” Bryan Merritt, president of the Tennessee State Employee Association said. The TSEA advocates for state employees and has tried to help these employees find new jobs.
Greene County state representative David Hawk said the state is also willing to help. “The Department of Labor has indicated that they want to work with our transitioning employees that may be leaving Greene Valley to see if there are other state employment opportunities in the region that they can transition into,” Hawk said.
The DIDD said they are also trying to help equip these employees before the closure.
“We’ve had five classes go through CNA, certified nursing assistant training, that we have been able to offer to some of the people that will be displaced by the closure of Greene Valley and we’ve had many people take advantage of that,” Kumari said.
Kumari said via email that while the authorized position count at Greene Valley Developmental Center is 452, the actual number of employees currently working there is approximately 354.
While transitioning that many employees out in three months may seem daunting, some aren’t convinced that closure date is realistic.
“They have an overwhelming task ahead of them of locating suitable placement for the remaining 58 residents, some of those folks have extremely critical care needs and I’m not sure that December is a realistic time frame,” Merritt said.
Hawk said he also thinks it will take much longer than a few months to close Greene Valley.
The DIDD originally set a closure date of June, 2016. The state granted the department a six month extension to this December. Now it has one more six month extension to use if it doesn’t make that deadline.Copyright 2016 WJHL. All Rights Reserved.