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Ocean Springs, MS Officials Complete ADA Training To Comply With Justice Department Agreement

May 1, 2015
Source: Gulf Live

OCEAN SPRINGS, Mississippi -- Ocean Springs city officials completed the second of two sessions on the Americans with Disabilities Act this week to finish the requirements set forth in the agreement by the City with the U.S. Department of Justice stemming from the Psycamore issue.

Last August, the USDOJ ruled the City had discriminated against the mentally ill and violated the ADA when the board of aldermen voted in 2011 to deny a use permit for the Psycamore mental health clinic to open on Iberville Drive.

Earlier this year, the City and US DOJ reached a settlement agreement under which the City would complete several "remedies" -- including payment of damages to Psycamore, hiring an ADA coordinator, an issuance of a use permit to Psycamore if the clinic still wanted to open in the city, and ADA training for City officials.

With the final ADA training session Tuesday night, those requirements have all been completed.

Mayor Connie Moran, all seven aldermen, all members of the Planning Commission and any other officials involved in building and planning were required to attend the sessions, held at the Emergency Operations Center inside the Ocean Springs Fire Department.

The sessions were conducted by ADA trainer Christine Woodall, herself disabled after contracting polio as a child.

"It was very informative," Moran said. "She presented a curriculum approved by the US DOJ. We heard about the history of ADA legislation and its implementation. She covered a number of topics."

Alderman Greg Denyer agreed.

"I told my wife when I got home that it was excellent information," he said. "It was well-presented, the lady did a wonderful job. As we talked about different issues, she explained some of her own difficulties, which really added a human element to it."

Denyer said the Psycamore issue was discussed, but in terms of what could have been done differently and what the City can do in the future to avoid similar circumstances.

"She talked about the problems with Psycamore, but it was more of an overview of the ADA requirements," he said.

"It will certainly make us more cognizant of the ADA requirements as we move forward with building and infrastructure improvements," Moran said.

Moran also said that Human Resource Director Mindy McDowell and Building Official Hilliard Fountain will share the responsibility of overseeing ADA compliance for the city. The two will attend an ADA conference in Atlanta as part of the process of earning ADA certification.

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