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Growing success

The asters and impatiens and marigolds are lined up in neat rows on shiny new tables, waiting for customers to take their pick.

The flowers are a labor of love for those who have spent countless hours planting and watering and tending to them. They are also a colorful testament that it is a person's ability, not his or her disability, that matters most.

Saturday, a green house on the Open Door School campus opened its doors to the public. The green house, yet to be named, is a joint venture for the Lawrence County Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, the Open Door School and Tri-State Industries, Inc.

The aim is to give people with developmental disabilities at both facilities an opportunity to learn about horticulture and small business, perhaps starting them on an enjoyable and productive career path.

"This is a transitional opportunity for them to learn work ethic and how to be ready for the work world," TSI

workshop director Jesse Roberts said. "And its a chance for people with disabilities to present their abilities."

Within three years, it is hoped that the green house will provide employment to as many as six people with developmental disabilities or mental retardation. Some of them have gotten a taste of the business world already just by helping grow plants and get the greenhouse ready for customers.

"Everything you see was done by the students," Open Door School teacher Kathy Conner said. "Many of them have come out to help five or six hours a day. They have their jobs to do. They have responsibility and they are learning a trade."

Ashley Hawthorne was one of those students. She spent a couple of days last week helping plant flowers in front near the walk way.

"It's nice," Hawthorne said of the greenhouse. "I like planting. I think it's a good thing for us."

The green house was paid for by a $25,000 grant from the Southern Ohio Agricultural and Community Foundation, along with matching funds from the Lawrence County MRDD board and Tri-State Industries.

For more information about the green house, including its hours of operation, call 532-7401.