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North Florida’s Agency for Persons with Disabilities Holds Town Meeting in Gainesville

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Barbara Palmer, director of the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, speaks Thursday at the Department of Transportation in Gainesville.
Barbara Palmer, director of the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, speaks Thursday at the Department of Transportation in Gainesville.” credit=”Adam Gerstenfeld / WUFT News

North Florida’s Agency for Persons with Disabilities held a town hall meeting in Gainesville Thursday in an attempt to attract people interested in further helping the region and state’s disabled.

The primary speaker at the meeting, held at the Department of Transportation, was Barbara Palmer, director of the Agency for Persons with Disabilities. She said the most crucial of six planning committees will focus on building businesses, because without businesses, there is no service.

Besides business, the committees include: aging caretakers, employment, behavior sciences, minimum waivers, and health and wellness.

She cited commuting problems as one of the major hurdles for the disabled community, and she’s attempting to combine a new business concept with a solution to a community need.

“One of the things we’ve talked about is people that are running group homes… giving them more money and having them do the transportation,” she said.

Palmer said there is still work to be done, and the agency must do what it can with the money it is given.

“The state can’t do everything. There are people with so many needs,” she said, “there is not enough money.”

Palmer has worked as a lobbyist for 35 years. She stressed during the meeting the importance of getting involved with state policies and communicating with politicians.

“They (the legislature) do not understand the difference between the disabled population, and the other group that’s on Medicaid” said Nina Krauthammer, mother of a developmentally disabled child. “My daugher’s needs are not being met.”

Krauthammer also noted the lack of communication between the agency and the community as a disturbing sign.

“There were maybe five or six people here that were actually disabled. The rest were providers, support coordinators and agencies,” she said.

Palmer will meet soon with Florida House Representative Keith Perry to discuss possible legislation.

Those interested in contacting Palmer with ideas or concerns can email her agency.

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