Construction on a new wheelchair ramp on the Gallia Street side of Vern Riffe School has been ongoing through the fall and winter. The project is now complete, and VRS students Kaliawna Arnett and Angel Rowe cut the ribbon at a short ceremony on Wednesday, March 15, with Scioto County Commissioner Bryan Davis also manning the big scissors.
The project began with site preparations on Jan. 12 and was ready for use on Feb. 8. The ramp project in its entirety cost $55,565, including landscaping. The Scioto County Commissioners funded $23,000 of the project with the rest coming from the Scioto County Board of Developmental Disabilities.
“The ramp project is part of a Board-approved capital improvement plan to keep our buildings as safe and functional as possible for the individuals we serve,” said Superintendent Julie Monroe. “It is a project we have wanted to do for a long time, and the Scioto County Commissioners also felt it was important. While we hope we are never in a situation where we have to evacuate the building, it only takes one incident to jeopardize safety and seconds count. We want everyone in our buildings to be as safe as possible, and considering the number of people we serve who need mobility assistance in one form or another, and the size of the building, we simply needed more than one accessible exit.”
The building houses not only VRS, which is the SCBDD’s school program, but also the agency’s administrative, business, and Service & Support Administration offices. The ramp on the Gallia Street side of VRS allows for another entry point for people who utilize mobility devices, as well as added safety in case of emergency.
The main entrance for the building remains in the rear, accessible through a parking lot with entrances off both Gallia Street and Mabert Road. While the main entrance in the rear of the building has long been accessible, the Gallia Street-facing entrance with its original concrete staircase has not.
The former Garfield School building was constructed in 1914. What is now the Scioto County Board of Developmental Disabilities began using the school in 1976.