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The Key's History

The Key Training Center was established in 1966 to unlock and open the door of opportunity for people with developmental disabilities.

Historically, expansion of Key Center programs and services was driven by a consistently increasing need within the local community. The expansion also was driven by the agency’s fundamental belief that programs and services should be available to all developmentally disabled people who need them.

The expansion, however, was possible because the Key Center enjoyed steadfast community support in Citrus County. As a community, Citrus County residents embraced, with compassion, the developmentally disabled as full-citizen partners.

The Key Center has been recognized as a leader and innovator in initiatives associated with improving the quality of life for people with developmental disabilities and has grown to serve about 1,300 clients since it began.

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Evolution of the Key Center as one of Florida’s largest and most efficient not-for-profit agencies serving the developmentally disabled is reflected by the following historical milestones.

Historical Milestones

• 1959 - Citrus and Hernando County Association for Retarded Children established.
• 1965 - Mr. and Mrs. Schuyler Orvis donated 40 acres for future Citrus County Association for Retarded Children to be used as school and workshop.
• 1965 - First thrift store opens in downtown Crystal River.
• 1966 - Citrus County Association for Retarded Children chartered as a corporation.
• 1967 - Key Training Center school and workshop building dedicated on February 13 to serve seven clients.
• 1968 - Bob Neal named first executive director.
• 1969 - Federal developmental disabilities staffing grant and Florida grant-in-aid funds obtained.
• 1970 - Garnett Miller appointed acting director.
• 1971 - Chet Cole hired as Executive Director on June 14.
• 1973 - Florida Governor Rubin Askew dedicates Karla Rooks Workshop.
• 1975 - Capital campaign launched to build first group home.
• 1976 - “Run For The Money” annual fund-raising event begins.
• 1977 - Franklin Cottage opens in January as the first intermediate care facility for the developmentally challenged in the State of Florida.
• 1980 - Spooner Cottage opens to serve 10 clients.
• 1981 - Key Pine Village opens as a 48-bed intermediate care facility for the developmentally disabled.
• 1982 - 18,000 square foot W.W. Caruth Building completed on campus.
• 1983 - Thrift store opens in Inverness.
• 1983 - WYKE, TV 49 signs on the air as a low-powered television station.
• 1984 - Atwood House, the first off-campus group home, opens in Inverness.
• 1984 - First “Run For The Money” auction held in Inverness.
• 1985 - Page House (now Key Light Home #2) opens in Inverness.
• 1986 - Homosassa Thrift Store opens.
• 1986 - Crystal River Thrift Store opens.
• 1986 - Roger Weaver Building purchased from Citrus County School Board.
• 1987 - First Key Center telethon conducted.
• 1987 - Burnes Cottage is new campus group home for clients.
• 1987 - Simons Cottage opens as 10-bed campus group home.
• 1988 - Tidwell Field completed on main Key Center campus.
• 1989 - Whitton House and Mann House open as off-campus group homes.
• 1989 - Davis Cottage is built as nine-bed campus group home.
• 1990 - Simons Pavilion built on campus.
• 1990 - Key Light #1 and Key Light #2 become first off-campus six-bed group homes.
• 1990 - Annual “Run For The Money” campaign tops $100,000.
• 1990 - CCARC becomes Citrus County Association for Retarded Citizens.
• 1993 - Key Center #1 and #2, six-bed group homes built in Inverness, open.
• 1993 - Key Manor Apartments in Inverness becomes first Key Center apartments.
• 1993 - Key Center Foundation established to create a self-sustaining endowment.
• 1993 - Garden Center opens in Lecanto.
• 1993 - Thrift Store opens in Lecanto.
• 1993 - Key Pine Village swimming pool complex opens.
• 1993 - “Run For The Money” total contributions climb over $1,000,000 since inception.
• 1996 - Key Vista Apartments are completed to serve 17 clients.
• 1996 - Crystal River Thrift Store relocates to US 19 and SR 44.
• 1997 - Key Center Foundation Office opens.
• 1998 - Inverness Workshop opens in Inverness.
• 1999 - Inverness Campus established
• 1999 - Inverness Thrift Store relocates to Inverness campus.
• 1999 - Business Office relocates to Inverness Campus.
• 1999 – August, Key Center receives first U.S. Family Foundation donation of $8,906 in support for the Key Training Center's beautiful work on behalf of its donor advisors.
• 1999 - First client to build their own home through the County’s SHIP program.
• 2000 - Adult Day Training Program begins at Inverness campus.
• 2000 - Citrus Springs group home established.
• 2001 - Allen House in Floral City opens.
• 2001 - Whitton House in Lecanto opens.
• 2001 - Key Center Foundation establishes an organized volunteer program.
• 2002 - Dedication of the Dean F. Hopkins Park at Tidwell Field.
• 2002 - Annual “Run For The Money” Dinner Auction celebrated its 20th Anniversary.
• 2002 - “Run For The Money” total contributions climbs over $2,000,000 since inception.
• 2002 - WYKE obtains a Class “A” license status.
• 2003 - Construction starts on a bigger Lecanto Thrift Store facility made possible through a USDA Loan.
• 2003 - WYKE becomes first Class “A” station in the United States to file an application with FCC for a digital license.
• 2003 - CCARC, Inc. becomes first nonprofit borrower to utilize USDA (Rural Development) Community Facility Loan Funds to refinance U.S. HUD 202/8 Loan for Key Pine Village a 48-bed IFC/DD, with the continuance of Section 8 rent subsidy and nearly 1 million dollars made available for new construction and improvements for existing facilities.
• 2003 - Pellgrin House in Inverness opens October 1, a unique Supported Independent Living residence.
• 2003 - Plans underway for downsizing 11-bed Spooner Cottage and launching a capital campaign to construct a 6-bed specialized Long-Term Residential Care (Contento Cottage) with an initial gift of $141,000.
• 2003 - Crystal River Key Store is sold.
• 2003 - Key Center Foundation and United Way Offices move to a new complex on SR 44.
• 2003 - USDA $2,000,000.00 loan approved to payoff HUD Key Pine Village loan and build a new educational/recreational building at Key Training Center campus in Lecanto.
• 2004 - USDA loan approved for $300,000.00 to convert Channel 47 WYKE to digital operation with new tower, transmitter and other equipment.
• 2005 - New 295’ steel guyed tower with transmitter building erected on 17-acre site North of Key Pine Village.
• 2005 - Old 300’ steel guyed tower removed.
• 2005 - WYKE Channel 47 digital operations commence in March.
• 2005 - Contento Cottage is completed and dedicated in March.
• 2005 - Groundbreaking and construction start of new 18,000 square foot educational/recreational building.
• 2005 - First Key Training Center “Citrus County Bass Challenge” in Inverness, Florida.
• 2005 - 23rd Annual Key Training Center auction dinner, 29th Annual Run For The Money and 18th annual Telethon in July.
• 2005 - 7th Annual Key Training Center “Fashion Show”.
• 2006 - Alliance with CCARC, Inc. and New Vue, LLC February.
• 2006 - Moved into new 18,000 sq. ft. educational/recreational building on Key Training Center’s Lecanto campus.
• 2007 - January - CCARC in partners with Scioto to open Glenco Place. A three bedroom APD home.
• 2007 - March - CCARC purchases 10-acre walker parcel on CR 491 in Lecanto for further expansion of Geriatric Center, Plant Nursery and Supported Employment Offices.
• 2007 - July - RFTM breaks $200,000 campaign goal barrier.
• 2007 - Five commercial acres purchased on U.S. 19 in downtown Chiefland for new thrift store and adult day training program with LARC.
• 2007 - First Bush Home Services “Tree of Hope” fundraising event.
• 2008 - Dedication of “Garden of Angels” at the Chet Cole Life Enrichment Center to memorialize all Key Center clients since 1966 who have gone on the be with the Lord.
• 2008 - February - Construction started on New WYKE studios.
• 2008 - March - Melissa Walker appointed Assistant Executive Director.
• 2008 - May - Longtime President B.M. Whitton retires, is unanimously approved as “President Emeritus.”
• 2008 - June - CCARC purchases Suncoast Furniture property on U.S. 19 in Crystal River for new Super Thrift Store.
• 2008 - July – RFTM breaks $250,000 barrier.
• 2008 - August - Sara Roberts took over leadership of CCARC’s Housing & Residential Services.
• 2008 - August – Crystal River Super Thrift Store opens its doors.
• 2008 - October – Skyview Charity Tennis Tournament sponsored by the Skyview Tennis Club.
• 2009 - February - CCARC purchases and opens a new 3-bedroom home known as Tenison House in Inverness.
• 2009 - April – Main Street Group Home was purchased in Inverness and the residents of Allen House moved into the home.
• 2009 - May – Residents from a group home that was closed in Orlando moved into the Allen Group Home located in Floral City.
• 2009 - June – CCARC purchases and opens a new 3-bedroom home known as Crystal Key in Lecanto.
• 2009 - July – 34th Annual RFTM surpasses $3 million in total contributions.
• 2009 - August – CCARC purchase and opens a new 3-bedroom home known as Crystal Ridge in Lecanto.
• 2009 - November – CCARC purchase and opens a new 3-behavioral focused group home in Inverness known as Kimberly Lane.
• 2010 – CCARC applies to FCC for Otter-creek non-commercial FM radio station.
• 2010 – Produce stand opens at Lecanto Garden Center.
• 2010 - December – Business Office in Inverness relocated to the Key Center Foundation in Lecanto.
• 2010 - May – Inverness Thrift Store is remodeled.
• 2010 - June – Key Center Partner’s Program is launched.
• 2010 – Best of the Best Award Winner– Retail Stores
• 2011 – Who's On First opens.
• 2011 – Key Group Home opens in Inverness.
• 2011 – Lecanto Complex at Key Training Center paved.
• 2011 – December, CCARC awarded State of Florida Provider Discovery Review of 97%.
• 2011 – May, Key Center notified that they will be a benefactor from the death of Morris Coleman.
• 2011 – Angellotis Restaurant opens at Inverness ADT.
• 2011 – Best of the Best Award Winner - Retail Stores
• 2012 – June, CCARC awarded State of Florida Delmarva Review score of 96% Deemed Status.
• 2012 – Labels opens in Inverness.
• 2012 – CCARC Inc. acquires WYKE 104.3 FM.
• 2012 – Cleveland House Group Home opens.
• 2012 – Best of the Best Award Winner– Retail Stores
• 2013 – Key Care Club Launched in Lecanto.
• 2013 – Labels opens in Crystal River Mall.
• 2013 – Woodside Group Home, 3-bedroom, opens.
• 2013 – Best of the Best Award Winner– Retail Stores
• 2013 – December, CCARC awarded State of Florida Delmarva Review score of 99.6%.
• 2014 – January, Florida Housing Grant $324,000 for 6-bed group home in Inverness named Country Walk.
• 2014 – Best of the Best Award Winner – Retail Stores
• 2014 – January, Who’s on First operations closed.
• 2014 – WYKE FM 104.3 power upgrade to 25 VW.
• 2014 – CCARC sells 491 9.5 acres and associated home property to County.
• 2014 – May, CCARC purchased 15-acres adjacent to the Lecanto campus for expansion of residential and day services.
• 2014 – October - New organization structure: Chet Cole appointed to Executive Vice President, Melissa Walker appointed to Executive Director and Theresa Flick appointed to Director of Program Operations.
• 2014 – November – U.S. Family Foundation donates the record amount of $49,189 in support for the Key Training Center's beautiful work on behalf of its donor advisors.
• 2014 – November, Key Center notified that they will be a benefactor from the death of Leo Vezzoni.
• 2014 – December, CCARC awarded State of Florida Delmarva Review score of 100% Deemed Status. For the size of our organization this is remarkable and a true testament of our superior leadership, department teamwork, and dedicated employees.
• 2014 – December, Purchase of United Methodist Church of Inverness for Day Services Expansion Operations.
• 2014 – Best of the Best Award Winner– Retail Stores • 2015 – February, Florida Housing Grant $367,000 for 6-bed group home in Crystal River named Setlowe Haven.
• 2015 – March, Inverness Day Services opens at the recently purchased United Methodist Church property.
• 2015 – March, Closed the sale of the old Inverness ADT Building located on Main Street.
• 2015 – September, through a generous donation by Mildred Webb and Leatha Mack, forty acres with a home and mobile home located in Lake Lindsey was deeded to the Key Center with the desire of a future camp for I/DD individuals and their parents.
• 2015 – October, Country Walk Residents Move-in to their new home.
• 2015 – October, SHIP Grant $10,000 for Country Walk additional enhancements.
• 2015 – December, Florida Housing Grant $392,000 for 6-bed group home in Inverness named Detmer Place.
• 2015 – Best of the Best Award Winner – Retail Stores
• 2016 – July, Florida Housing Grant $392,000 for 6-bed group home in Beverly Hills named Key View.
• 2016 – July, SHIP Grant $30,000 for Setlowe Haven for additional enhancements.
• 2016 – July, SHIP Grant $30,000 for renovations to Franklin Cottage built in 1977. The Key Center’s first constructed group home.
• 2016 – July, SHIP Grant $10,000 for renovations to Spooner Cottage. The home was built in 1980.
• 2016 – July, Key Center Board member Phil Royal tragically passes. He was a seasoned athlete who championed the long-distance 180 mile run during the heat of summer to remind the rest of us what difficulties and challenges these special people with I/DD face every day. His mission of one team, one mission, and one community lives on through the Phil Royal Legacy Foundation.
• 2016 – August, Key Center transitions three Marion ARC group homes to the Key Center operated homes.
• 2016 – September, The Planned Unit Development (PUD) for the adjacent 15-acres to the Lecanto campus was unanimously approved by the Citrus County Board of County Commissioners. The twenty-year conceptual site plan consists of ten homes with three of those homes with the layout of Contento Cottage to meet the needs of our physically handicapped clients, 7,000 sf community building, and a $10,800 SF Support Education & Recreational Facility.
• 2016 – October, CCARC awarded State of Florida Delmarva Review score of 96.2% Deemed Status.
• 2016 – Best of the Best Award Winner– Retail Stores
• 2017 – February, Florida Housing Grant $417,000 for 6-bed group home in Inverness named Royal Cottage
• 2017 – February, Florida Housing Grant $417,000 for 6-bed group home in Dunnellon named Key Pine
• 2017 - February, Two SHIP Grants at $30,000 each for Detmer Place and Key View for additional enhancements.
• 2017 – April, Setlowe Haven Residents Move-in to their new home.
• 2017 – April, Operations closed for three Marion County Homes.
• 2017 – April 23, With great heartache, the Key Center’s visionary leader since 1971, Chet V. Cole, passed away from a serious of strokes at the age of 72.
• 2017 – December, Key Center deeded the Crystal River Search And Rescue, Inc. building and associated property (.77 acres with 4 ½ lots) located in downtown Crystal River.
• 2017 – Best of the Best Award Winner– Retail Stores
• 2018 – January, Detmer Place Residents Move-in to their new home.
• 2018 – May, City of Crystal River purchased the donated Coast Guard Auxiliary building and associated property in downtown Crystal River for future use of a creative playground and water park and additional parking for the downtown area.
• 2018 – August, Key Center awarded Healthcare Humanitarian Hero by the Citrus County Chronicle for going above and beyond to use our talent and knowledge to help improve the health of those less fortunate.
2018 – Awarded $140,000 SHIP Grant funding over the past three years to support the construction of four - six bed bedroom/bath homes and much needed renovations to our older homes constructed in 1977 and 1980. These funds directly impacted forty-four residents.
• 2018 – October, CCARC awarded State of Florida Qlarant Provider Review score of 97.7% Deemed Status.
• 2018 – December, Florida Housing Grant $488,000 for 6-bed group home in Citrus Springs named Serenity Springs.
• 2018 – Best of the Best Award Winner– Retail Stores
• 2018 – Labels Best of the Best Honorable Mention
• 2019 – January, Key View Residents Move-in to their new home.
• 2019 – Longtime Board member, Samuel Joyner, given the distinguished honor of a Board Member Emeritus,
• 2019 – Awarded $2.3 million dollars in Florida Housing grants to construct six homes throughout Citrus County to provide loving, nurturing, and safe environments for adults with I/DD.
• 2019 – May, Blind Americans 12,500 square foot Quonset hut building on approximately 4.29 acres located in Hernando was donated to the Key Center for future Day Services programing.
• 2019 -- 43rd RFTM - 180 Mile Run logging in 7,740 miles, with starting point at Crystal River, ending up roughly at 229 miles into around Lake Michigan in the Wisconsin border. The grueling 180-mile run originated in July of 1976 to bring awareness to the battles and triumphs of the I/DD and to advocate that all people deserve to live their lives with dignity and respect. Averaging thirty miles a day, over six days, the run is equivalent of seven Boston Marathons.
• 2019 – Melissa Walker awarded 2019 Katie Porta Excellence in Administration by Florida ARF.
• 2019 – Best of the Best Award – Retail Stores – Honorable Mention
2019 – Labels Best of the Best Award Winner
• 2020 - Longtime Board member, Irene R. Hupp, given the distinguished honor of a Board Member Emeritus.
• 2020 – February, Longtime President David Detmer retires from the Board and Carolyn Zemanik takes on the Presidency.
• 2020 – Key Center awarded Best of the Best Non-Profit Organization by the Citrus County Chronicle – Voter’s Choice.
• 2020 – July, COVID-19 changed our world. 44th RFTM Activities turned Virtual raising an astounding total of $259,367.18. Our core thirty runners and cyclers exceeded their 180- miles, and one-hundred and twenty-five community and beyond runners and walkers joined, virtually logging together over 2,000 miles, equivalent to over eleven trips from Tallahassee to Lecanto.
• 2020 - July – 44th Annual RFTM surpasses $5.5 million in total contributions.
• 2020 – August, Florida Housing Grant $488,050 for 6-bed group home in Citrus Springs named Hope Haven.
• 2020 – September, Since 1999, the U.S. Family Foundation has provided $413,758 in support for the Key Training Center's beautiful work on behalf of its donor advisors.
• 2020 – October, Key Center awarded State of Florida Qlarant Provider Review score of 99.4% Deemed Status. The State’s required Delmarva quality assurance survey has consistently awarded the Key Center with high honors of "DEEMED" status for department services including administrative, employee records, residential, adult day training observation, life skills development, residential habilitation behavior focus, and residential habilitation standard.
• 2020 – October, Royal Cottage Residents Move-in to their new home.
• 2020 – Best of the Best Award Winner – Retail Stores
• 2020 – Labels Best of the Best Winner