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Wise and Kenyon are named to Commission on Disabled

Hope Wise, left, and Bill Kenyon, center, appeared before the selectmen Feb. 6 and were appointed to the Commission on the Disabled, led by chairman Don Ciotta, right. —Macklin Reid photo

An activist for special needs children and a retired scientist have been appointed to the town’s Commission on the Disabled.

The selectmen interviewed  Republican registrar and former school board member Hope Wise, and former Schlumberger geo-physicist Bill Kenyon  and appointed them both  during their Feb. 6 meeting, noting that  vacancies still remain on the seven-member commission

Ms. Wise told the Board of Selectmen of her experience as the mother of a special needs child who had grow into young adulthood.

“It’s a real shocker when your child comes out of the school system and there’s nothing there,” she said.

She said she’d advocated for special needs students when serving on the Board of Education and had also worked for ROSE, the Ridgefield Organization for Special Education to create and improve programs for special needs children.

Today the Parks and Recreation Commission’s ‘Out and About’ program offers young disabled adults some recreational opportunities, and the private group SPHERE also does a lot.

“I can’t tell you what I’d do without SPHERE,” Ms. Wise said.

But she felt more is needed.

“There’s still a definite void when you’re coming out of school,” she said.

The board members all said that they knew Ms. Wise, and her long record of work for special needs children.

“You’re really responsible for opening a lot of blockades in this town,” said Selectwoman Di Masters. “As your daughter moved along, you left those doors open.”

Mr. Kenyon said he’d lived in town since 1973 and worked at Schlumberger from 1972 to 1999.

The selectmen wondered what kind of experience he’d had at Schlumberger — management?

“I was a scientist and I’ll claim for myself a rigorous, open mind,” he said, adding his speciality was applied geo-physics.

His work with the disabled had been mostly some volunteering with SPHERE.

“I assisted with art classes this summer — that was an education for me,” he said.

“That group has a wonderful esprit de corps.”

Asked if he had a particular project he wanted to pursue, Mr. Kenyon said he didn’t. He’d been attending some of the commission’s meetings, and expected chairman Don Ciotta — who was sitting, watching the proceedings — would have some suggestions.

The board was impressed.

“It’s wonderful you’re coming forward and volunteering to help,” said Selectman Andy Bodner. “It’s great that you’ve been to the meetings and you obviously have the endorsement of Don.”

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