Citizen Action Protests Oversight in County Departments

- A group of people concerned about changes in the oversight of some county departments gathered outside of government plaza late yesterday afternoon.

Citizen Action organized the protest.

The group says it's concerned that Willow Point Nursing Home and its administrator will now be overseen by Art Johnson, who is the Commissioner of Social Services and Mental Health for Broome County.

The group opposes the county's plan to close its mental health clinic and shift clients into privately run out-patient facilities.

Karen Carpenter has a family member at Willow Point.

She believes that Johnson will try to sell Willow Point to a private company, putting patients who don't have much money at risk of having to move out of the area.

"I've seen spouses who are here locally go there everyday to feed their husband, wife, mother, father and it's heartbreaking to know that without a public nursing home those people will have to travel or will not be able see their family members everyday," said Carpenter.

A spokesman for the county declined to comment about the protest.

Commissioner Johnson is now overseeing more departments, because Broome County Executive Debbie Preston has decided not to fill a vacant deputy executive position as a way to save money.

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