PG NewsPG delivery
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Home Page
PG News: Nation and World, Region and State, Neighborhoods, Business, Sports, Health and Science, Magazine, Forum
Sports: Headlines, Steelers, Pirates, Penguins, Collegiate, Scholastic
Lifestyle: Columnists, Food, Homes, Restaurants, Gardening, Travel, SEEN, Consumer, Pets
Arts and Entertainment: Movies, TV, Music, Books, Crossword, Lottery
Photo Journal: Post-Gazette photos
AP Wire: News and sports from the Associated Press
Business: Business: Business and Technology News, Personal Business, Consumer, Interact, Stock Quotes, PG Benchmarks, PG on Wheels
Classifieds: Jobs, Real Estate, Automotive, Celebrations and other Post-Gazette Classifieds
Web Extras: Marketplace, Bridal, Headlines by Email, Postcards
Weather: AccuWeather Forecast, Conditions, National Weather, Almanac
Health & Science: Health, Science and Environment
Search: Search by keyword or date
PG Store: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette merchandise
PG Delivery: Home Delivery, Back Copies, Mail Subscriptions


Headlines by E-mail

Headlines Region & State Neighborhoods Business
Sports Health & Science Magazine Forum

Western Center closing May 19

5 remaining residents will be transferred

Wednesday, May 10, 2000

By Jan Ackerman, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

The last five residents still living at Western Center in Cecil will be transferred to another facility by May 19 under an agreement that will empty the 38-year-old institution for the mentally retarded.

As part of the agreement, Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Paul R. Zavarella said yesterday that he will schedule hearings to determine whether the best interests of the five mentally retarded residents would be served if they were permanently transferred to group homes.

    Related story (May 9)

Casey critical of group home oversight

The residents will be temporarily housed at the main campus in Robinson of Allegheny Valley Schools, an agency that provides community-based housing for the mentally retarded.

"We will proceed with further hearings as quickly as possible," Zavarella told about 25 parents who waited in the administration building at Western Center in Washington County yesterday, hoping that a hearing would be held.

Parents went to Western Center yesterday expecting Zavarella to hold a hearing that would enable their lawyers, Michael Pribanic and Jesse Torisky, to present testimony based on a scathing audit of the state's monitoring of group homes.

In anticipation of the hearing, state Auditor General Bob Casey Jr. released an audit on Monday criticizing the state welfare department and the Ridge administration for being lax and ineffective in their monitoring of group homes and slow in investigating deaths or possible abuse in community residences.

The audit also found that the training of employees in group homes is insufficient and cited numerous instances where individuals with criminal backgrounds worked with clients.

Instead of holding a hearing, lawyers for the Western Center parents' group and the state Department of Public Welfare huddled in private for about four hours, ironing out details of an agreement that will give the parents' group its desired hearings and allow the last five residents to be moved out of Western.

Pribanic said one resident will be moved today. The other four will move on May 19. In addition, one woman who was mistakenly moved to Ebensburg Center during earlier transfers will be transferred to Allegheny Valley Schools.

"Clearly, our goal is not to have them placed in group homes," Pribanic told reporters yesterday.

Daniel Torisky, a leader of the parents' group, said he was satisfied with the outcome, since his group will be able to present their concerns at the upcoming hearings.

Many in the parents' group call the closing of Western Center a "land grab."

The 304-acre tract of prime residential property adjoins Southpointe, a tremendously successful mixed-use office and residential park in Washington County near the Allegheny County border.

bottom navigation bar Terms of Use  Privacy Policy