CCDD’s 50th anniversary marked with summer festival

State Representative Doug Green (left) presents a proclamation to Superintendent Dan Ottke during the Clermont County Board of Developmental Disabilities’ 50th Anniversary Summer Celebration.

The Clermont County Board of Developmental Disabilities (CCDD) celebrated its 50th anniversary with a summer festival on Saturday, August 19. This event is part of several that will mark CCDD’s 50th year in existence in 2017.

State Representative Doug Green (left) presents a proclamation to Superintendent Dan Ottke during the Clermont County Board of Developmental Disabilities’ 50th Anniversary Summer Celebration.

Official legislation was passed on October 25, 1967, giving all counties in the state of Ohio the opportunity to provide educational and vocational services to children and adults with developmental disabilities. Although there have been many changes since 1967, CCDD is proud of its past, present, and future.

The festival began at 9 a.m. with a Classic Car Cruise-In and games for children. Vendors including Child Focus, Stanley Home Products, and Tastefully Simple were just a few in attendance. County offices participating in the vendor fair included the Convention and Visitors Bureau, Public Library, Humane Society, and Veterans Services. A children’s fishing derby was also featured as well as a kids carnival presented by Families Connected of Clermont County and the Cincinnati Circus.

An anniversary program took place during the picnic lunch, sponsored by Jet’s Pizza of Milford. State Representative Doug Green presented a Statehouse proclamation in recognition of CCDD serving Clermont County for 50 years. Commissioner David Painter was also in attendance and presented a 50th anniversary certificate on behalf of the Clermont County Commissioners. Current Superintendent Dan Ottke served as emcee for the program.

“We are thrilled to be celebrating our 50th year in operation,” said Dan Ottke, CCDD Superintendent. “So many things have happened over the years. People with disabilities have taken positive steps, and county boards across the state have been there every step of the way.”

Ottke asked that a moment of silence be shared in honor of Thomas A. Wildey, III. Wildey had been a former CCDD board member and was still very much a part of the success of the agency until his death earlier in the month.

Former administrators and individuals from the program discussed the early years during the luncheon program. Donald A. Collins, superintendent at CCDD from 1976 until his retirement in 1989, spoke about how CCDD came into existence and the programs that began immediately following the legislation passage in 1967.

Richard Sternberg was a former associate superintendent who took a walk down memory lane by sharing stories about the 1980s and 1990s.

“I was hired as the first full-time speech therapist at the Special Education Training Center, now the Thomas A. Wildey School,” said Sternberg. “I had no idea my career would take so many turns along the way.”

Rocky Arnett, a student who graduated from the Thomas A. Wildey School in the 80s, discussed his school years and how much he enjoyed the support of his teachers while in school. He entertained the crowd with lots of fun stories about himself, classmates, and former teachers.

Meg Kasarcik, a program manager who retired in 2011, discussed the early years of the Adult Services Program once known as Clerco (short for Clermont County). Kasarcik talked about change and growth that took place in the 80s and 90s for individuals with developmental disabilities.

Sharon Woodrow, CCDD superintendent from 2003 until 2015, shared that she was only hired to work for one year as a Medicaid Coordinator in the 1990s and how, over 20 years later, she found herself retiring from the same agency. Woodrow also discussed changing times across the state and how moving from a workshop setting to employment in the community became a mantra for CCDD in the late 90s and early 2000s.

Gary Kasarcik spoke about receiving services in the Clerco workshop many years ago and how getting a job at Red Lobster was a great experience. He credited his staff and his family for their support of his accomplishments over the years.

Debbie Malott was the last speaker, who had been part of the CCDD program for years. Although she had been familiar with the agency because of her brother, Rocky (who spoke earlier in the luncheon program), Malott found herself back at CCDD when her son was born. Conner Malott has Down syndrome and participated in CCDD’s Early Intervention program before going to preschool and public school.

When it became time to learn about employment after high school, Conner returned to CCDD for their Bridges to Transition summer work experience program. Malott and her family are thankful CCDD was there for both Rocky and Conner.

Superintendent Ottke announced that CCDD would continue celebrating their anniversary until their annual Good Fortune Dinner, which is slated to be held in October, 2017.

For more information about this and other CCDD events, contact ldavis@clermontdd.org or call (513) 732-4921.