(WBRE/WYOU) — A state lawmaker from Luzerne County is calling out the governor for the state’s planned closure of the White Haven Center. That decision has angered many people in our region who say the center is the lifeline for families served by the center.
That decision continues to send shockwaves across northeastern Pennsylvania. State Representative Gerald Mullery insists that Governor Tom Wolf should pay a visit to the center and explain the state’s reasoning for the closure face to face with those affected by the closure.
If the state gets its way, the White Haven Center will close its doors for good sometime in 2022. 112 residents with physical and intellectual challenges live at the center. 429 people work there.
“Absolutely, absolutely. I think the governor should come to White Haven. He’s making a decision that is affecting the lives of thousands of Pennsylvanians, folks he was elected to serve,” Representative Gerald Mullery (D) – Luzerne County said.
The state Department of Human Services says the center’s residents will be transitioned into private facilities and employees will be offered positions with other state agencies or assisted in finding jobs in the private sector. Mullery says it falls upon the governor himself to explain the move directly to the people impacted by the center’s closing.
“I think he owes it to them. He should look them in the eye and personally explain the decision he has made and hear their input and hear it in a way, in a fashion that it may have some influence on the decision he has made,” Mullery made.
The state has scheduled a public hearing on the closing for September 12 at Saint Patrick’s Church in White Haven. But Mullery insists “I think the hearing is simply providing the residents, the families, and the employees and the great White Haven community a sense of false hope.”
Tom Kashatus’ 50-year-old daughter has been a resident at White Haven for 40 years.
“Absolutely not absolutely not. There’s always hope as far as I am concerned. You never know what’s going to happen in the long run. Things can change,” Kashatus said.
Eyewitness News reached out to the governor’s office for comment. At this point in time we have not had a response. Last week the director of Pennsylvania Department of Human Services told Eyewitness News there was no chance that the White Haven Center would remain open. The state is also closing another center in western Pennsylvania.