Regional News in Review - October 2012

Woodbury may gain apartments

A 45-unit apartment building is being proposed for people with disabilities and seniors in Woodbury. The rent-subsidized units would be built at City Walk, an urban-style apartment complex that already has about 490 units.

The project, called View at City Walk, has been approved by the Planning Commission and City Council. Planners say it will fill a big gap in the city’s housing supply. The project is managed by housing owner/development nonprofit CommonBond. Andrew Michaelson, CommonBond’s senior housing development manager, said 12 of the units would be built for households that include at least one person who has a physical disability. The others will be designed for senior citizens. Units will be affordable for those with a household income of less than 60 percent of the metro area median. According to CommonBond’s formula, that means rent of about $400 per month for a one-bedroom unit and $850 for a two-bedroom.

The building is planned for the east end of the City Walk complex, which is south of Hudson Road and east of Woodbury Drive. It will be the final building in the complex, which was started in 2001. (Source: Pioneer Press, Woodbury Bulletin)

 

Braille sign pioneer killed

One of the people killed in a Sept. 27 shooting at a Minneapolis sign-making business was a pioneer in the creation of Braille indoor signs Reuven Rahamim, 61, was shot to death in “a senseless act of violence” at Accent Signage Systems Inc., son-in-law Chad Blumenfield said in a statement.

Rahamim was one of five people killed. Those killed also included a UPS driver. Four others were injured. The gunman, a former Accent Signage Systems employee, took his own life.

Rahamim started Accent Signage Systems, Inc. in the basement of his Minneapolis home in the early 1980s, according to the business publication Finance & Commerce. Rahamim said he chose that name because he wanted it to be the first sign company listed in the Yellow Pages.

The interior signage company specializes in American with Disabilities Act-compliant signs after developing a patented method to create Braille signs for the blind. U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce Francisco Sanchez praised the company for its innovation during a visit to the facility in August.

Rahamim was born and raised in Israel and served as a soldier in the Israeli army before coming to the U.S., Blumenfield said.

The Rahamim family has received an outpouring of support since the tragedy. Gov. Mark Dayton and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak also offered condolences. (Sources: Star Tribune, Associated Press, KSTP-TV)

 

Parents restart support group

Parents in the Fairmont area have restarted a support group for families with special needs children. The parents pool their talent to support others learning to raise a child with challenges, and educate each other on navigating the maze of services offered to them. The group offers support for parents of children with any disability—ranging from physical, mental or emotional disorders. The members have children ranging from babies to adults.

Andrea Miller recently began facilitating the group and is revitalizing it after years of working under a now defunct grant. Her son, now 6, was born with Down syndrome.

When she first learned of his diagnosis, Miller was overwhelmed and busy taking care of her newborn and his older sister. For support, she organized a group for parents of children with Down syndrome in Mankato, but it only lasted for a year or so. By then, her son was enrolled in services through the county and school district. She became involved in the local parent support group, and when its facilitator left this summer, she stepped into the role.

Miller said topics for discussion each month will come from the needs of the group. She envisions a psychologist discussing the path of acceptance, how to talk to siblings about a child’s disability, and information on nutritional needs. The group meets 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. the fourth Tuesday of each month at Southern Plains Education Cooperative office, 201 E. Third St., in Fairmont. (Source: Fairmont Sentinel)

 

Project Life Saver helps find boy

Project Life Saver helped a Hollandale family be reunited with an 11-year-old boy with disabilities in September. Through the Project Life Saver program, started three years ago in Freeborn County, deputies found the boy in a cornfield less than 25 minutes after he was first reported missing. A deputy used a device known as a LoJack receiver to track a transmitter bracelet worn by the boy, according to a Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office news release. This was the first successful track utilizing the system in Freeborn County. Patrol Sgt. Ryan Shea said the program is used by families who have children with autism or Down syndrome and also by adults with Alzheimer’s disease. The families come into the Law Enforcement Center once a month to have the batteries changed in the bracelets.

Hollandale firefighters coordinated a search with the family, neighbors, on- and off-duty deputies, and the Clarks Grove and Geneva Fire Departments. An off-duty deputy brought the receiver to assist in the search. (Source: Albert Lea Tribune)

 

 

Students benefit from new school

When Intermediate School District 287 decided to construct its own school in New Hope, it had a lengthy wish list of “green” features and cutting-edge education designs. The district—which serves 4,675 special-education students among its total student body of 10,098—considering remodeling an existing building. But district officials decided to start afresh with the new $30 million North Education Center, which opened this school year sporting myriad innovative design and energy efficient features.

The effort has caught the attention of education facility planners, builders and managers across the state and was featured at last month’s Impact 2012 conference put on by the U.S. Green Building Council’s Minnesota chapter.

The building is praised for its adaptability and accommodating spaces for special needs students, including removable (or “demountable”) walls, which allow educators to adjust the size of classrooms to suit the changing needs of the students. Window design, lighting, heating and cooling design accommodate the walls. (Source: Star Tribune)