County home residents, employees protest job cuts

WARRENSBURG - Residents and several fired staffers of Countryside Adult Care Home staged public protests Friday with Warren County supervisors against job cuts, facility downsizing, reduction of activities, and employment conditions at the home.

Employees whose jobs were eliminated or uncertain aired attacks against Countryside's Director Brenda Hayes, alleging favoritism, nepotism, retaliation toward employees and mismanagement of the home. She disputed the charges this week.

The protests occurred June 19 in front of the county Board of Supervisors convening at the Warren County Municipal Center. About a dozen elderly residents formed a procession into the room, behind three employees whose jobs were abolished or threatened in a four-position cutback at the home - Activities Director Faye Perry, Case Manager Deanna Park and Activities Aide Wanda Olden.

The protest continued among the home residents early this week, as a substantial percentage of them refused to participate in activities as a way to object to pending staff and program cutbacks.

Monday, Hayes disputed the charges one by one, and said the employees' allegations were apparently a result of changes she has been making to dramatically cut taxpayer expenses at the home, which has a declining population.

Countryside Adult Home is a county-sponsored facility that provides room, board and activities for elderly or special needs adults that don't have the means to live on their own.

Perry, a 30-year employee, said that her job had been targeted for elimination after she had sent a letter to the county officials airing allegations. But Hayes countered that the claimed "retaliation" had occurred before the existence of the letter had been revealed, and the job cut had already been discussed with county officials.

Although Fay, Park and Olden said the activities staff elimination would drastically curtail activities, Hayes said that aides and the 29-or-so other staff members could direct the home's activities alongside their other duties. Hayes said that since her arrival in January 2005, Countryside had been staffed far beyond its true needs. Some of the personnel expenditures were merely wasteful, and didn't necessarily enhance the lives of residents, she said.

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