- Associated Press - Friday, January 30, 2015

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A federal judge has accepted the state’s proposal to close Tennessee’s last large facility housing mentally disabled people by the end of next June.

Media report that Judge Kevin Sharpe issued his ruling on Thursday, about a week after hearing arguments in Nashville for and against the closure of the Greene Valley Developmental Center in Greenville, which has nearly 100 residents and about 600 workers.

State officials recommended closing the facility to end a long-running lawsuit over care of the mentally disabled. They plan to move the residents into more community-like settings as part of a larger movement to improve services and get people out of large institutions.

The judge ruled the state’s proposal “benefits the public interest.”

“The court concludes that the exit plan presented by the parties is ‘fair, reasonable and adequate’ and provides the next iteration of improvement to the lives of those with disabilities in Tennessee. It will test political will and legislative leadership to continue that progress and to determine how best to care for those often left in the shadows,” he wrote.

He ruled that the families who tried to intervene to keep the center open did not file their motion in a timely manner and meet other requirements.

He did acknowledge their concerns, but said others have been moved out of institutions into alternative care facilities with favorable outcomes.

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