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Juvenile Detention Center Has Open House [AUDIO, PHOTOS]

Natrona County’s newly constructed juvenile detention center offered the public tours at an open house on Saturday. The 11-million-dollar Natrona County Regional Juvenile Detention Center has 24-beds and is located next to the adult facility. County Commissioner Matt Keating thanked all involved but also went back a number of years to where the project began.

Early beginnings:

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“We really have to start by thanking Dick Dresang. Dick was the catalyst for getting the federal grant that brought Dr. Rausch, the grandfather of juvenile detention and Mike McMillan, a nationally known architect, who are also involved, and I believe it was the report that they wrote that I think changed some of the conversation, even how some of us define juvenile detention here in Natrona County.”

Cornerstone Director of Detentions Tim O’Daniel says his job is to help kids get in control of their lives.

Rehabilitation center:

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“Coming out here and being able to see the open sky, all kids dream, and they don’t dream of being in here. While they’re here, we’re giving them the opportunity, we’re giving them someplace safe. Our goal is always to rehabilitate, help, nurture and get these young people to places they need to be.”

Cornerstone is the company that is contracted by the Natrona County Sheriff and Commission to operate the detention center. O’Daniel said they may have juveniles in the facility as early as mid-November.

County Commissioner Rob Hendry acknowledged that it took a while to get it built because of the money involved.

Money held it back:

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“It takes a lot of money to build these and to run them. We had a Townsend Justice Center and courtrooms to build, that one (juvenile detention facility in the Hall of Justice) worked so it got put on the back burner and then it all started coming to a head so we had to do something, so this is the result. It was its time and here’s what we have.”

Former Gov. Dave Freudenthal allocated 8 million dollars in 2009 stimulus funds and the county had 3 million in one-cent money, and it helped that they owned the land, said Hendry.

Expandable facility:

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“You know, we just got this one built and it’s unfortunate that we’re talking about the possibility of building on, but that’s the reality. Depending on the gender and the classification, you can be full at a lot less than 24.”

The open house was dedication by the Honorable Gary Hartman, Gov. Matt Mead’s juvenile justice policy adviser.

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