Tornado Levels Amish Sunshine Training Center
September 21, 2018 by Ann Wishart

A tornado struck a corner of Middlefield and Claridon townships around 2:50 p.m. Sept. 20, damaging a few buildings, trees and utility poles, but there have been no reports of people or animals injured, according to the Geauga County Sheriff’s Office.

A tornado struck a corner of Middlefield and Claridon townships around 2:50 p.m. Sept. 20, damaging a few buildings, trees and utility poles, but there have been no reports of people or animals injured, according to the Geauga County Sheriff’s Office.

The most damage was done to the Sunshine Training Center under construction on state Route 528.

Located next door to the DDC Clinic, the center for special needs children at 14567 Madison Road in Middlefield Township, a 6,000-plus square-foot building, had a steel roof over it.

Thursday morning, the roof was setting on the muddy ground and the walls were smashed under it.

Ray Miller, president of the Sunshine Training Center board of directors, said Thursday he thinks some of the materials, most of which have been donated, can be salvaged, once the insurance company evaluates the destruction.

Construction has been ongoing over the summer, he said.

“We don’t have a builder. You know how the Amish are. We just all pitch in and do our part,” Miller said. “We get people to come help as they have time. We work with their schedule.”

The block foundation appeared to be undamaged and plumbing had been installed, he said.

A crew was supposed to install the in-floor heating system Thursday afternoon, but was running a little late, he said, adding if they had been there working, someone could have been hurt.

The board had a goal of opening the Amish training center for mentally challenged adults in January, but it looks like the tornado damage will set construction back 30 to 45 days and the opening won’t be until early spring, Miller said.

“Our clean-up will determine that. But we were on a relatively relaxed schedule,” he said.

The program for Amish teens and adults ages 16 and up has been going on for some years and gradually grown to the point where a larger facility is needed, he said.

Sunshine Training Center is affiliated with the DDC Clinic and works with the Bessie Benner Metzenbaum Center in Chester Township.

The clinic was founded in collaboration between Amish and non-Amish families in 2002 for children with more than 70 rare genetic disorders that are difficult and time-consuming to treat, according to an article provided by the clinic.

It is internationally recognized for the work it does. In 2005, DDC opened a lab and in 2013, added a molecular genetics laboratory where it offers more than 50 genetic tests.

In addition to damage to the training center, the sheriff’s blotter reported a roof was torn off an abandoned building on state Route 87 in Middlefield Township.