Paquin Tower program might get funding after all

Thursday, July 2, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT
Martin Andrews plays Wii Bowling from his wheelchair after the Adapted Community Recreation program's monthly birthday celebration. Wii video games are just one of the activities offered by the program, but participants would like to see improved activities and more participants in the future.

COLUMBIA — After having its funding cut last year, the Adapted Community Recreation Program at Paquin Tower could have its funding restored.

Boone County Family Resources and the Department of Parks and Recreation have proposed a funding agreement, in which Family Resources would provide the program at Paquin Tower with $16,000, and the city will maintain its current funding of $72,000.

Mike Hood, Parks and Recreation director, said city staff is reviewing the agreement as part of the 2010 budget process.

“In essence, BCFR is looking to restore/replace the funds that were cut from the program’s budget during the FY09 budget approval process,” Hood said in a report about the proposed agreement. 

Participants in the program have noticed a change since funds were cut last year. Paquin resident David Dollens, said he noticed when the activities became more limited, and there were fewer supplies and limited staff.

Staff recently conducted a survey, program supervisor Karen Ramey said, and there were suggestions for more activities after 3:30 p.m. to accommodate participants who work during the day. But they cannot currently provide all the activities suggested, because of lack of funding, she said.

“With the funding we have, we’re doing what we can,” Ramey said.

Les Wagner, executive director of Family Resources, said that if the agreement passes, it will evaluate the activities and participation at the end of the year with Parks and Recreation. He also said he’s open to a providing funding for a second year.

Wagner said “it made sense” to offer the funding after it was reduced last fall.

A few changes at Paquin Tower have already been made to improve the program. Parks and Recreation staff recently changed the name from the “Paquin Tower Recreation Program” in order to let people in the community know that it is open to everyone, not just Paquin Tower residents.

Hood said they had already been considering the name change before the proposed agreement. The program has always been available to anybody in the community.

“We’ve been working on it anyway to make sure people know what we have to offer,” Ramey said. “We have had calls from other groups, wanting to know more about the program.”

Don Burkett, a program participant and resident of Paquin Tower, said he would like to see more people who live in the building participate.

“There are a lot of people who live here who don’t come,” he said. “You can’t think for people. You can only think of ideas to get them interested.”

Ramey and Wagner both emphasized that coordination and communication is important for the success for this program.

“It’s just the beginning,” Ramey said. “It’s a work in progress. It always takes time to change things, and I think we’re working toward it."

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Charles Dudley Jr July 2, 2009 | 4:30 a.m.

Great news for this valuable program in our community!!

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin July 2, 2009 | 9:39 p.m.

Glad to see Wagner and Company step up to the plate here. Frankly, it's about time. Why? Read this excerpt from my last op-ed in the Columbia Business Times:

Getting shot down is partly what prompted board members Steve Tatlow and Alison Martin (my wife) to resign from the Boone County Family Resources (BCFR) all-volunteer board last year.

Financial and management irregularities—including an unusually large reserve fund and an unduly long term for board chairman Bob Bailey—churned up a perfect public relations storm that had Bailey literally yelling at dissident board members. “Who talked to the papers? Don’t talk to the papers!” Bailey reportedly blustered.

News accounts had Bailey and BCFR’s six-figure-salaried director Les Wagner telling Tatlow that his questions about their taxpayer-funded operation were “a waste of time.”

Fear of personal liability for board malfeasance drove Tatlow to the Missouri attorney general’s office, which sent an Oct. 11, 2007 letter to BCFR that “expressed concern about the legality of the board’s operations and raised the possibility of a formal investigation,” the Columbia Missourian reported.

Speaking in Tatlow’s defense during one grueling board meeting, “Alison Martin said she felt uncomfortable with the board,” the Missourian reported. “I feel very intimidated, and it really bothers me,” Martin said.

Saying it was “vital that a board member ask critical questions,” Tatlow resigned rather than fight an effort to dismiss him.

(Report Comment)

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