Pike County Leads the Way in Disability Services
Pike County has a long history of leading the way in caring for its citizens who have developmental disabilities. Starting with a group of parents, family members and interested citizens, the Champ Clark Association for Retarded Children was founded in the 1950’s. It functioned as a parent support group and led to Pike County parents becoming aware of and involved in what was going on around the State. In 1955, four mothers of children who had intellectual disabilities and no school to attend approached Mrs. Ruth Jensen, county superintendent of schools, and requested her assistance. The first step was conducting a county-wide survey of need. Driving from home to home, a number of children who had disabilities and needed an education were identified.
A 1958 article in the Bowling Green Times reported, “After spending two days at a (Missouri Association for Retarded Children) convention and workshop for retarded children, Mr. (Frank) May brought home a very fine report of the work being done by the Association.” One of the topics discussed at the convention was the establishment of 10 state schools for children who were “trainable mentally retarded,” as outlined in State legislation passed in 1957. These first ten schools were established in cities and large towns in the State. That didn’t slow down the Champ Clark Association for Retarded Children who worked hard to get a school in Pike County.
The group finally secured a location, the basement of the abandoned Bowling Green elementary/junior high school, and State School #14 was born. Classes were started in January 1960 with teachers paid by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. With volunteer help and support from parents, other family members and interested persons, the school thrived, providing much needed education and social interaction for students. The school moved, in 1972, to two trailers set up on land at the new Ruth Jensen Village.
After outgrowing the trailers, a brand new school, Lillian Schaper State School No. 14, was constructed in 1974. The school was named after Mrs. Lillian Schaper of Bowling Green, who worked tirelessly for the school children. The new, modern school was built using, for the first time in the State, a lease-purchase agreement where money to build the school was borrowed by CCARC from the five banks in the county, the school was built and then leased to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education until the loan was repaid. The school remains in the same location today and is operated by the State Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. For the first 20 plus years the school was in operation, the Champ Clark Association provided funding for Christmas and graduation gifts, extra supplies, treats and other things to help the school and students.
Shortly after getting education for their children set up, the Champ Clark Association for Retarded Children, later named the Champ Clark Association for Retarded Citizens, and today known as the Champ Clark Association for Challenged Children, partnered with the Hannibal sheltered workshop to establish a satellite workshop in Bowling Green in October 1966. The Pike County Sheltered Workshop, also known as the Pike Shop, was started in the same, old Bowling Green school building, as the State School #14. Due to legislative requirements, a separate not for profit agency was set up to oversee and operate the shop. Some of the Champ Clark Association members formed the new, workshop board. However, from 1966 until 1985 joint meetings of the CCARC and Pike Shop Boards were held members of the Pike Shop Board were also members of CCARC.
On June 12, 1972 the Pike Shop was relocated to a new building, constructed with funds from the Pike County Sheltered Care Board (known later as Ruth Jensen Village Board and then as Pike County Senate Bill 40, and presently as Pike County Agency for Developmental Disabilities), at Ruth Jensen Village. It remains at the same location today. Offering contract work for various industries the employees’ jobs include packing, collating, assembly, and recycling. A portion of the cost of providing this service comes from the State Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, with contract income and Senate Bill 40 (Pike County Agency for Developmental Disabilities) tax funding making up the rest.
One month after getting the Pike Shop going in the old school building, on November 11, 1966, a meeting was held at the Wil-Lo Café in Bowling Green where Russell Armentrout, member of the CCARC, local businessman and grandfather of a child with a disability, detailed for those present the third step of a plan to provide a complete array of services for the County’s citizens who were developmentally disabled. There was education and employment already set up. His plan would allow Pike County citizens to pass a property tax which would, in turn generate funds to build residential housing in the County and help support the Pike Shop. In order to establish the taxing authority, a new statute would have to be approved by the State Legislature.
The efforts of Armentrout and many other interested individuals in Pike County and around the State resulted in the passing, by the state legislature, of Senate Bill 40 in 1969. This enabling legislation allows counties to “establish (and) (or) maintain a sheltered workshop and residence facility for handicapped persons, and for which the County Court shall levy a tax not to exceed 20 cents each one hundred dollars assessed valuation.” Pike County was the first county to adopt Senate Bill 40, passing the proposal on May 26, 1970.
Even before the levy was passed, the County Court (Commission), following legislative direction, appointed a nine member board to “oversee establishment and operation of sheltered care facilities for retarded and other handicapped persons in the county,” according to the Bowling Green Times. The first board consisted of Carr Woods, attorney; Russell Armentrout, businessman and grandfather of a child with disabilities; Mrs. Mabel Meyer, social worker; Sheriff James “Mac” Marshall; Mrs. Jimm Daugherty, teacher at State School #14; Mrs. Ruth Jensen, county superintendent; Rodes S. Hood, businessman and brother of a person with a disability; E.P. Hansen, physician; and Steve Ambra, father of a child with disabilities.
Among the first items of business for the new Sheltered Care Board, was obtaining a Federal grant to purchase 13 acres of land at the junction of Highway 161 and Business Highway 61 in Bowling Green. Following this purchase, the Pike Shop was the first building constructed. It was completed in June 1972, followed shortly after by two group homes. House 1, the Russell Armentrout Home and House 2, the Frank May Home. These homes, with room for 8 residents each and house parents, were occupied in August 1972.
The years following the opening of the first two group homes were a time of continual growth and progress in services for Pike County persons with disabilities. The Sheltered Care/Ruth Jensen Village Board built House 3, the C. Rodes Hood Home and House 4, the Frances Feldmann Home at the Ruth Jensen Village in 1974. This brought the total number of people who could live on campus to 32. House 5, the Robert E. King Home was built in 1980 as a residence for Macie Ogden Petrie, long time administrator of the Village. When Mrs. Petrie retired in August 1987, the home was used briefly as administration offices until the Macie Ogden Petrie Administration Building was completed in 1988.
The Champ Clark Association for Retarded Children also started a preschool program for children with delays and disabilities in 1972. This program, the Pike County Preschool Center was started in space provided by the Presbyterian Church, but moved to the basement of House 2, the Frank May Home following its construction. The program moved to The Learning Center at 801 Business Highway 61, Bowling Green in July 1987. The Learning Center was constructed and paid for by the Ruth Jensen Village (Senate Bill 40) Board.
The Champ Clark Association for Retarded Children also turned its attention to providing a pre-employment program for adults who weren’t ready for employment at the Pike Shop or were unable to work. The pre-vocational program, which started in the basement of the Frank May Home, was moved to the 1600 block of Business Highway 61, Bowling Green. Following construction of The Learning Center at 801 Business Highway 61, Bowling Green in 1987, the pre-employment program and early childhood program moved to this facility. In 1993 the adult pre-employment program was turned over to the Pike County Senate Bill 40 Board as the CCACC decided to focus on preschool and early childhood services.
Today, The Learning Center is well known for its excellent, integrated preschool and daycare programs. Once again, Pike County is leading the way in innovative best practices by including children who do not have any disability in classrooms with children who do have disabilities and delays. All the children are, thus, playing and learning together from birth or at least, a very early age. The children ignore or adapt to the “differences” of their friends who are also their classmates as true integration is achieved.
The adult program, now offered by Pike County Senate Bill 40, was renamed Community Living Skills and was moved to the Macie Ogden Petrie Administration Building at Ruth Jensen Village in 1993 where it remains today.
Jumping back to 1988, in order for the residents of Ruth Jensen Village to be able to take advantage of the Federal Medicaid program, a separate not for profit organization, named Ruth Jensen Village Residential Services, Inc. had to be set up to take over the operation of the group homes. Some of the members of the Ruth Jensen Village/Senate Bill 40 Board left that board to go on the board of the new, residential agency. Then the Ruth Jensen Village Board became known as Pike County Senate Bill 40. In 2001 Pike County Senate Bill 40 changed its name to Pike County Agency for Developmental Disabilities to better reflect its tie to services for persons who have developmental disabilities such as intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, epilepsy and autism.
Today, Pike County Agency for Developmental Disabilities operates Community Living Skills, an adult day program; New Era Retirement Home, which offers residential living to 6 adults; a Community Inclusion Program that offers services to individuals who live on their own or with family members; Community Employment Services to help people find and keep jobs in the community; temporary residential care at New Era Home and temporary residential care reimbursement; as well as service coordination to all Pike County individuals who are clients of the Division of Developmental Disabilities/Hannibal Regional Office for Developmental Disabilities.
PCADD offices are located at the Administration Building, 900 Independence Drive, Bowling Green, MO 63334.
Also today Ruth Jensen Village Residential Services, Inc. provides residential living for 51 individuals at 15 sites in and around Bowling Green. The Ruth Jensen Village Residential Services, Inc. administrative offices are located at #5 Industrial Drive, Bowling Green, MO.
“Leading the way in services for persons with developmental disabilities” — An idea born more than 50 years ago in Pike County that is still alive today and has led to a wide array of services for persons of all ages who have developmental disabilities. “Thank you Champ Clark Association for leading the way!”
Written by Betsy Barnes, Former Executive Director
Pike County Agency for Developmental Disabilities
(formerly Pike County Senate Bill 40 and Ruth Jensen Village)
September 13, 2013