BUCKHANNON —West Virginia is one of the lowest ranked states in terms of hiring disabled employees. The business manager of the Upshur County Work Adjustment Center Mary Dean brought products made from the center and explained it’s purpose at the last Rotary club meeting.
“It was organized in 1975, it is a 501c3 and we employ individuals with disabilities,” Dean said. “We have to maintain at least 75 percent of our labor hours have to be by certified disabled individuals and that's through psychiatry or doctors they can be veterans or young people or whatever.”
Dean said there are 27 other workshops in West Virginia that also hire disabled employees, but they provide different services. The Upshur County center is known for making products from wood. Dean said they get their lumber from a business in Elkins and make multiple products. The center makes survey stakes and ship them out to Texas, Louisiana, Ohio and West Virginia. After they have finished making the survey stakes the center uses the scraps to make kindling and sell them for $1.50 a bundle. Dean said they have constant business from people who take it camping. Other products the center makes include basket bottoms for basket weavers, bird houses, wine holders, lawn ornaments, tables, chairs, desks, porch swings and anything else a customer can ask them to make.
“We can make just about anything if you bring it to us,” Dean said. “We have so many creative workers that if you bring it in and have an idea, our guys can take it in the back and come up with something.”
Dean said she and her husband Larry Dean took over the running of the center four years ago and since then have made numerous improvements.
“When we got there the building was leaking all over the building and through the generous donations of two individuals and the Rotary club we were able to get a new metal roof on the building. A lot of the equipment had been broken down or unsafe. We went through the building and upgraded or replaced a lot of the equipment. We added a commercial paint booth a few months ago which gives a better finished product and its safer for our employees.”
Dean said the people who work at the center enjoy their work.
“They are such hardworking individuals and have been there for many years,” she said. “They are passionate, dedicated, they do wonderful work and they are proud of their job.”
The work adjustment center currently employs around 25 disabled individuals and they are opened Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is located at 211 Little Sand Run Rd in Buckhannon and their phone number is 304-472-4678.