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Published: Tuesday, 7/24/2007

Counseling services' merger plan falls through

The final vote had been taken, the ink dried, and the final documents dropped in the mail.

But now, after spending months trying to merge two of Lucas County's oldest mental health and substance abuse counseling services, authorities are trying to untangle the marriage.

The problem was not with each other, say directors of both agencies - Connecting Point, which works with some of the area's most troubled and mentally ill youth, and the Zepf Center, which provides the same services but to adults.

It was that the financing fell through at the last minute.

"It came down the bank would not authorize a sufficient line of credit to assure the cash flow needs," said Frank Ayers, interim director of Zepf.

Mr. Ayers was supposed to retire July 1, the first day of the merger. And even throughout that day, it appeared that every-thing was on schedule.

The boards of directors had taken their final votes, several management positions had been eliminated or realigned, and the merger papers had been sent to the Ohio Secretary of State's Office, said Jeff Deckebach, director of Connecting Point.

Zepf was to become a division of Connecting Point.

But as the Independence Day holiday week began, the final proposal from the bank - neither Mr. Ayers nor Mr. Deckebach would identify which bank - came through. And after meeting with the bank after the holiday, it was obvious the deal was falling through.

Both men said they were disappointed, and the agencies have worked together to undo the merger. And both said they might revisit the proposal at another time.

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