Somerset —The news isn’t good for a large number of Bluegrass Oakwood employees, who are expected to be receiving the proverbial pink slip due to the Commonwealth’s budget crunch. Shannon Ware, executive director of the Bluegrass Regional Mental Health-Mental Retardation Board, which oversees operations at the Oakwood mental health facility in Somerset, confirmed that as many as 53 employees are being let go, with those notifications having started going out Thursday. “We’re very disappointed and upset about this,” said Ware. “Anything we do, whether cutting jobs or cutting back operations, our number one priority is still to run a safe, excellent facility. It’s going to b tough, but it’s what we will do.” This isn’t Bluegrass Regional’s doing — it’s the state’s. Ware said this is a part of Kentucky’s “overall budget shortcomings” — which probably would have been the case regardless of the controversy over Medicaid funding in Washington that could have ripple affects at places like Oakwood — and that the state was “pretty late in getting all their contracts negotiated,” meaning that the new contract for Oakwood’s budget wasn’t about to be signed until the first week of July. “That’s why it took us a while to figure out what we needed to do to meet the cuts,” said Ware. Oakwood isn’t alone — cuts are being made at similar facilities around the state, Ware said. “The governor has cabinet secretaries looking to trim anywhere and everywhere.” That means personnel won’t be the only area where Oakwood is affected. Ware said cuts will be made in any area of the facility’s operation that can stand it. “Anytime you run a big facility, that’s where the big costs are (in personnel),” said Ware. “You can only trim operations so much.” Yet because Bluegrass Regional has done just that, it’s kept the number of layoffs from being worse. “If a job turns over, if it’s not on the list to be terminated, if it turns over through natural attrition, we’re looking at it to see if it’s one we might not have to refill,” said Ware. “We don’t want to do anymore layoffs than we absolutely have to. Cutting 53 jobs is not great but number is not worse because we’re trying to achieve rest of the savings through attrition.” Currently, Oakwood employees about 1,000 people, said Ware, who treat and care for 150 developmentally disabled clients who live on campus, and others who come to it to receive medical and other services. That personnel number doesn’t even include specialty contractors, many of them having had their deals be frozen or cut. Retirement is also a problem, said Ware — ”The match that Kentucky employers have to pay went up 16 percent,” she said. “That’s huge.” The total cut amounts to about $3 million out of Oakwood’s regular working budget, which has been in the vicinity of $70 million in the past. Ware is quick to assure people that, given Oakwood’s troubled past, this doesn’t mean the facility is in any danger of shutting down. “It’s easy for people to become alarmed because of the history of Oakwood, but this is more a part of the climate of the economy,” she said. “It’s very unfortunate. ... (but) I think we’re tightening our belt now at beginning of the fiscal year. We’re going to go on and do everything we think we have to do so that the budget is stable the rest of the year.”
- Local News
‘Unified’ Pulaski would kill USDA loans
With release of a study concerning feasibility of unified governments in Pulaski County about a month away, there is growing concern that creation of a city of more than 63,000 residents would negate the community’s rural status and make the entire county ineligible for USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) loans and grants.
Man gets 10 years for plotting to kill parents
A local teenager was sentenced to a decade in prison this week for his role in a plot to murder his parents.
Teen who sent texts under home incarceration
A Southwestern High School student accused of sending threatening texts detailing a violent assault at the school appeared in court.
- Lawsuit against jailer settled
- Man killed in wreck on Ky. 70
- Later work times for postal workers shouldn’t affect public
City of Burnside tweaks alcohol laws
Burnside held a couple of special meetings in the last few days designed to tighten up the city’s alcoholic beverage control laws.
Student sent texts detailing planned SWHS massacre
The quick response by detectives and school officials ensured that no one was hurt Monday after a Southwestern High School student allegedly sent threatening text messages to other students over the weekend and off school grounds.
Student charged with threatening to ‘shoot up’ SWHS
A local high school student has been charged with terroristic threatening after he allegedly sent text messages about detonating bombs at his school to a fellow student.
Body of missing hunter recovered in Green River
Families in two different counties are in mourning after the bodies of two duck hunters were found by rescuers in the Green River area in western Kentucky.
- More Local News Headlines
- ‘Unified’ Pulaski would kill USDA loans