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Noble County Soccer, Noble County Board of DD
Partner to Provide Safe Play for All

Reprinted with Permission from The Journal-Leader, Caldwell, OH
July 22, 2019

For the first time, Noble County Soccer will be able to offer a safe, fun and educational soccer season for the local youth that have developmental disabilities. This would not be possible without the support of the Noble County Board of Developmental Disabilities. The Noble County Board of DD was able to provide Noble County Soccer with funds to acquire the necessary safety equipment for these young athletes. Noble County Soccer is so honored to be able to provide this soccer experience to the youth of the county ages Pre-K through 8th grade, regardless of the player’s experience or abilities. In the past, families that had athletes with developmental disabilities would have to travel outside of the county to find an organization that could fulfill the safety needs required for these young athletes to be able to participate in any type of sporting event. Thank You Noble County Board of DD.

For any questions regarding the Developmental Disabilities soccer season, please contact Keith Wilson (NCS Board Member) 304-966-2173, or Adam Chandler (NCS Board Member) 740-581-2063.

 Pictured left to right: Corey Archer (NCS), Adam Chandler (NCS), Jen Hayes (NCS), Beth Guiler (Noble County Board of DD), Keith Wilson (NCS), Scott Stritz (NCS), and Shawn Stritz (NCS).


Pool Pass Winner

Fred Spence of Caldwell was the lucky winner of a 2020 season pass to the Happy Time Pool, a giveaway held at the County Fair by the Noble County Board of DD. Fred and his 10-year-old grandson, Kaiden, also pictured, are frequent pool visitors, so he could not be happier to have won a pass for next year. Congratulations to Fred and Kaiden!





BHN Superintendent Receives Leadership Award

Stephen L. Williams, Superintendent of the Belmont, Harrison and Noble County Boards of Developmental Disabilities, has received the 2018 Kenneth Legats Visionary Leadership Award from the Ohio Association of County Boards of Developmental Disabilities.

The award is presented annually to an executive who, over a career of more than 20 years, has shown high ideals, vision, and moral leadership in the administration of services for people with developmental disabilities.

Williams received the award at the OACB 35th annual convention in Columbus on November 30, 2018.

“I am humbled and grateful to be recognized in this way, but awards aren’t individual in nature,” Williams said. “I have a great team that strives to provide the best possible service to the people we support.”

In the nomination, Williams was described as “a thoughtful and passionate leader who is focused on building teams, enhancing relationships and ensuring success for the future. Through his humor, calm and focus, he brings out the best of those around him and always leads with an eye on the future and long-term success.”

Williams began his career with the Belmont County Board of DD in 1988 as a case manager, working in various leadership positions through the years until being named Superintendent of the Belmont, Harrison and Noble County Boards of Developmental Disabilities (BHN Alliance) in 2012. He is the only superintendent in Ohio who serves as superintendent of three county boards of developmental disabilities.

Noble DD Board Receives
Three-Year Accreditation

The Noble County Board of Developmental Disabilities has been accredited by the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities for the quality of services provided to county residents.

A six-member team from the state department completed a comprehensive review in November that included interviews with individuals and families who receive supports. A three-year accreditation was earned, the maximum possible term.

Superintendent Stephen Williams credited the successful review to the way the Board views what it does.

“Relationships are the foundation of quality supports and that is our focus in everything we do,” Williams said. “We recognize the uniqueness of every person and family served and that means we are better able to help them get what they want out of life.”

The Board coordinates supports for more than 100 eligible children and adults with developmental disabilities. Supports include early intervention (birth to age three), school-age assistance, transition from school to work (ages 14 to 22), job-related training and employment, residential, transportation, and respite.

Wellness initiative kicks off this fall

A new initiative designed to promote the physical and mental well-being of people with disabilities will kick off this fall across Belmont, Harrison and Noble counties.

The BHN Alliance Wellness Fund has been created to support community-based wellness activities designed to get people moving in the community.

The fund operates as a grant. People choose what they would like to do, sign up and pay for the activity and then submit receipts/paid invoices to the County Board for reimbursement. It’s that simple.

The Wellness Fund provides reimbursement for activities like:

  •  Fitness facilities / gyms / pools
  •  Weight loss programs [Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, etc.]
  •  Healthy Cooking Classes
     Smoking cessation programs
  •  Registration fees for healthy walks/runs
     Fitness classes like yoga, Zumba and others
     Community team activities like softball, Pickleball, etc.

“The people we support are interested in healthy living and the Wellness Fund will provide a means for them to get active by joining community-based health and fitness activities,” said BHN Alliance Superintendent Stephen Williams.

If you are a person served by the Belmont, Harrison or Noble County Boards of Developmental Disabilities and would like to learn more, contact the Service and Support Department at 740-695-7433.

Trauma-Informed Care is central to way

supports are coordinated in BHN Alliance

People with disabilities experience more abuse than others, yet their needs often go undertreated or minimized. That means the trauma continues to have an impact on their lives years after the abuse occurred.

The BHN Alliance understands the role trauma plays in the lives of many of the people it supports. That is why it adopted a Trauma-Informed Care (TIC) approach in 2016. Darlene Pempek, Director of Community Supports, led the effort. In her work with families, Dar realized that the immediate crisis or distress someone was experiencing had underlying circumstances.

“As we got to know people, we learned that past traumatic experiences were still impacting them,” Pempek said. “Those lived experiences had to be taken into account for people to become well.”

Trauma-Informed Care requires a system-wide understanding of trauma. The three county boards in the Alliance offered full support for this way of serving people with disabilities. The goal at the beginning was to make sure supports took into account how past traumas impacted children and adults.

Pempek attended trauma trainings and returned with strategies for the BHN Alliance SSAs, who began including TIC approaches to the supports they were coordinating. It made a huge difference. Once a person’s past trauma was identified, it became easier to identify the types of supports that would not only be effective, but would also make the person feel safe so they could heal and thrive.

In June 2016, the BHN Alliance was invited to join Tristate Trauma Network’s Trauma-Informed Learning Community. Pempek, Director of Transition Adam Nicholoff, SSA Corianne Sanders and Communications Coordinator Pamela McCort participated in the Learning Community where leading trauma experts provided training and support over the course of a year.

SSA Corianne Sanders said the training had an impact on her.

“I realize that everyone can be affected by trauma in some way. This knowledge allows me to be more intentional in my interactions with others, which makes me a better person and a better SSA,” Sanders said.

The core implementation team now directs activities designed to create an educated and informed workforce. Trainings by Mary Vicario and Carol Hudgins-Mitchell Finding Hope Consulting have taken place. A Belmont CommUNITY was created, comprised of partners from several agencies who regularly meet to discuss ways they can become more compassionate and understanding in the work they do. Trainings on trauma-informed care are offered by the BHN Alliance TIC Core Implementation Team and been provided to local law enforcement, the staff at a local hospital and public school.

“The effects of trauma continue long after the traumatic experience has occurred and that is why it is important for all of us in the system of support to treat people with compassion,” Pempek said.

“Healing, resiliency and hope are possible for children and adults when trauma-informed care is practiced by everyone.”



 BHN Alliance Director Named Child Advocate of the Year

Darlene Pempek is shown accepting the Child Advocate of the Year Award from Vince Gianangeli, Director of the Belmont County Department of Job and Family Services. Pempek is the Director of Community Supports for the BHN Alliance and the award was bestowed on her at the Annual Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Luncheon held April 6 at Undo’s West in St. Clairsville. Also pictured with Pempek and Gianangeli are, from left: Stephen L. Williams, Superintendent of the BHN Alliance, and Commissioner J.P. Dutton, and Judge Frank Fregiato (far right), who was emcee of the program.Darlene Pempek, Director of Community Supports for the BHN Alliance, received the Child Advocate of the Year honor today at the Annual Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Lunch held at Undo’s West in St. Clairsville.

The recognition was given by the Belmont County Department of Job and Family Services and the Belmont County Commissioners.

Pempek is well-known across the county from her work in the Commissioners’ office from 1989-2005, serving as the Board of Commissioners’ Clerk for 10 years.

Pempek joined the Belmont County Board of Developmental Disabilities in 2005 where she oversees the coordination of supports for families of children with disabilities in Belmont, Harrison and Noble counties (BHN Alliance). She also represents the Alliance at the county Clusters where she collaborates with the other agencies to serve youth at risk.

In presenting the award, Belmont County DJFS Director Vince Gianangeli noted Pempek’s strong support of county agencies when she was still in the commissioners’ office. He also pointed out the influence of Pempek’s older brother, the late Chet Kalis, who served as Director of Belmont DJFS and later District Manager for the State of Ohio Job and Family Services. He said that she credits him with helping her find her purpose and calling through his example of selfless commitment to others.

In accepting the honor, Pempek said she was blessed to be part of a collaborative team across Belmont County that works together for the benefit of children.

“In order for effective treatment to occur and families to remain together, coordination is imperative,” Pempek said.

She noted the positive influence one person can have on an abused child looking for hope.

“Any one of us can be that hope for a child – any one of us by our actions, our words, can be the one that touches a young life and enlightens that hope,” Pempek said.

Pempek and her husband, Gary, are the parents of two adult daughters and grandparents to two grandsons.


County Boards of DD Mark 50 Years of Support

The Ohio Legislature created a unique and vital resource for people with developmental disabilities in 1967 and that resource continues to be a lifelong support 50 years later.

Always There 50 YearsOhio’s County Boards of Developmental Disabilities are celebrating their 50th Anniversary in 2017. The year-long theme - Always There - reflects the continuity of support, promotion of opportunity and history of partnership county boards have offered to the people they serve throughout the past, in the present and in the future.

Throughout the next year, the Belmont, Harrison and Noble County Boards of Developmental Disabilities (BHN Alliance) will be sharing stories of what people are achieving in their community.

“Our goal with any effort like this is to build awareness and understanding around what people with disabilities are achieving and how we are there to support their efforts,” said BHN Alliance Superintendent Stephen Williams.

County Boards are responsible for the coordination and funding of quality supports and services people need and this can begin at birth and continue throughout a person’s entire life. Supports funded or provided by the county boards include early intervention for infants and toddlers with developmental delays; transition services to help young adults successfully move from school to work; job-related skill training and employment for adults; and personal growth, residential and transportation services.

Williams noted that some people have intensive needs requiring constant care while others are more independent, living, working and contributing to their community with minimal supports from the County Board.

“We believe in the inherent right of all people to make their own decisions about what they want out of life,” Williams said. “Our mission then is to be there as a support as they seek what matters the most to them.”

The BHN Alliance is a partnership between the three county boards that share a person-centered approach to identifying, coordinating and delivering supports to more than 700 eligible children and adults in Belmont, Harrison and Noble counties.


STABLE accounts let people save money without losing benefits

For the first time ever, people with disabilities can now save and invest in their futures without losing government benefits.

For Lorri and John Phillips of Scio, that means being able to put money aside for their daughter Staci’s future with confidence.

This ability to save is offered through STABLE Accounts, made possible by the federal ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) Act and administered in Ohio by State Treasurer Josh Mandel.

A STABLE Account is an investment account that allows people to put their money in up to five different saving and investment options. Balances and distributions do not affect needs-based benefits such as Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

The investment option was the appeal of a STABLE account for Lorri and John.

“Stocks and bonds are really exciting to me and since we are investing long-term, her money will hopefully grow,” Lorri said.

The maximum yearly contribution limit is currently $14,000 with a maximum lifetime contribution of $414,000.

Staci’s STABLE account is an investment in her future, yet it is so much more.

“(STABLE) is not just for the future, it can be used for education and other things Staci wants and needs now,” Lorri said.

She’s right.

The money can be used when needed and the investment earnings are tax-free when used to pay for qualified expenses, like housing, transportation, employment training, health and wellness, and others.

Account set up and enrollment is done online and participants can monitor their investments, make contributions and request withdrawals, all online.

Lorri learned about STABLE accounts more than a year ago and was ready to go once they opened on June 1, 2016, making Staci the first person in the BHN Alliance to open a STABLE Account.

Lorri said the process was easy. When she made an error in the application, she called the toll-free number and a representative helped her correct it.
Staci Phillips and her mom, Lorri, look over a brochure explaining Ohio’s new STABLE Account that lets people with disabilities save and invest money.

Staci’s parents considered a trust, but they felt more secure with a STABLE account.

“We are not going to be around forever and we want things to be available for Staci when she gets older,” Lorri said.

To learn how a STABLE Account might benefit you or someone you know, call 1-800-439-1653 or email 

To enroll, go to




Make the Connection
By Stephen L. Williams

How connected are you?

We don't often think about our connections, yet they are how things get done. Our first and most important connection is to our family, the people we love, nurture and support. After our families are community connections – our friends, coworkers, the people we worship with and volunteer alongside. Connections are in the fabric of our lives, so when we pause to answer the question, it's easy to see that a life without connection is not much of a life at all.

For some time now, the Belmont, Harrison and Noble county boards of developmental disabilities have been at work connecting people to their community. This purposeful effort started by asking the people we support what they wanted and then listening - really listening - to their answers. Their answers included statements like "I want a job where I can make more money" and "I want to live closer to my family" and "I want to learn how to drive a car."

Armed with those answers, we set our course to make these goals and ambitions happen. We do this by connecting people with disabilities to their community and we are seeing real results. Every day someone else is engaged in their community and everyone is better because of it.

You see, connections are not about programs, processes, or systems. They are about relationships, the kind that link people to what matters the most. What does this look like? It looks like a young man whose goal is to help senior citizens so he finds a job in a nursing home. It looks like a young woman who collects toys so children without can have a happier holiday. It looks like an adult who has always wanted to read and then finds the Adult Basic Education teacher who will take the time to teach him. These ambitions are all accomplished through connections.

The 2015 awareness theme we have chosen is MAKE THE CONNECTION. Ready. Willing. Able. It is a call to action that our community is already answering. Business owners, churches, schools, civic organizations and neighbors are embracing what the people we support have to offer and our community is better because of it.

Consider becoming a connection for someone today. It will have a lasting impact on you, the person you connect with, and your community.

Make the connection and make a difference in the life of someone you have yet to meet.


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