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Becker County DAC now has room to grow

The clients and staff at the Becker County Developmental Achievement Center now have a little more elbow room in which to work.

The DAC recently completed a 4,100 square foot expansion of its building, which doubles the size of the facility since its opening in 1971.

Back then, the building was only 6,000 square feet. In 1994, a 2,500 square foot addition was made, which provided for a new kitchen and cafeteria area.

With this most recent expansion, the total amounts to just over 12,000 square feet.

One-third of the addition went to a much-needed "sensory integration room" for individuals with neurological or cognitive challenges.

The room will help improve their concentration, purposeful movements, alertness, calm behavior and give them better awareness of their surroundings.

Prior to the addition of the room, DAC staff used a cart with various supplies to try to reach those goals, moving to different rooms throughout the day.

"We've been poised for growth for a long time," Executive Director Dave Peterson said. "It's more convenient and better for clients and staff."

In addition to the sensory integration room, new offices, conference rooms and workspaces for clients were added to the building.

A new, larger conference room allows for more comfortable wheelchair movement.

The project was contracted out in May 2007, and they broke ground in July.

A November finishing date was originally scheduled, but it wasn't actually completed until Jan. 1.

The DAC also remodeled inside as well, which Job Development Coordinator Kathy Kennedy said was a "trying experience."

"There were lots of disruptions and dust everywhere for four to six weeks," she said. "Our main room was all filled with office equipment."

The DAC clients, however, dealt with the changes well, she said.

"Every month we nominate one client for doing great work, or whatever it may be," Kennedy said. "In January, we nominated everyone and threw a big party to thank them for being so flexible with the changes."

The DAC works to provide a socially acceptable and normalized pattern of daily living for adults with developmental disabilities.

They currently serve about 75 adults through their day training programs, which include vocational training and community integration.

In addition, they also serve about 22 adults through a semi-independent living service.