In recent weeks, the Times has received numerous calls in reference to the possible closing of Sunland Center. The rumor was also circulating about the closing of DDDP in Chattahoochee. In response to concerns about Sunland closing or substantial changes being considered by the administration in Tallahassee, regarding restructuring which would adversely affect future operations, the TIMES obtained a letter addressed to Sunland and DDDP employees.
The letter was from Karen Hagan, Chief of Staff for Agency for Person with Disabilities. Hagan said, “In recent weeks, false rumors about the future of Sunland have been in the newspaper and on social media. I want to reassure every one of you that there are no plans to close Sunland or DDDP. APD values both Sunland and DDDP and the important work that you do to serve people with disabilities in the region. Remember, people can post anything they want on their Facebook page, and that does not mean any of it is true. I am sorry that many of you have been distressed by these rumors, and understand that anything that would impact your livelihood is of concern. Rest assured, your jobs are safe and there are no plans to shut down Sunland or DDDP. The work you do is both important and appreciated.”
In a telephone interview with the Melanie Etters, we asked if there were any truth to the rumors surrounding the closing of Sunland. Etters said, “Nothing is going on.” Nothing substantial will be changing in reference to Sunland or DDDP.” Etters added, “Here in Tallahassee there is some reporting shifting but nobody’s jobs are in danger. The word they are using here is they are ‘reorganizing’ but sometimes when you use that word people think their jobs are in danger and that is not the case. What we have is a lot of people who used to report to the Deputy Director of Programs will not report to the Deputy Director of Operations. Some of those who used to report to the Deputy Director of Operations will now report to the Deputy Director of Programs, once it is approved. It has not been approved yet. The centers and that includes Sunland will go to reporting to the Deputy Director of Operations to reporting to the Deputy Director of Programs. But that will have nothing to do with who lives at Sunland. None of that is changing. The only change will be is they will report from one man to reporting to the other man. Nothing is changing in the big picture of the operation of Sunland.”
The Times has spoken with Senator George Gainer and he continues to reiterate he will do everything in his power to insure Sunland and DDDP remain open.