Tuolumne County leaders cut the ribbon, and facility staff members gave tours to hundreds of visitors to the new Mother Lode Regional Juvenile Detention Facility this morning.
Supervisor of Distict 2, Randy Hanvelt, conducted the business of the meeting to open the facility as Board Chair Sherri Brennan was absent due to illness. To hundreds who were in attendance Hanvelt said, “This facility is going to make a huge difference, in our ability to help our kids get back on the right track, those who’ve slid off for whatever reason. I am really excited about that, and this is the first installment of what will be a much needed law and justice center.” Video from today’s dedication is also on the MyMotherLode YouTube Channel.
The 24,630 sq. ft. facility has 30 beds and can be expanded for more later. There are two classrooms, a multipurpose room, a kitchen facility, and visitor areas. Tuolumne County received $16-million in state grant funding to cover the majority of the construction costs. However, there will be new costs associated to keep it operational.
CAO Craig Pedro recently stated in an interview with Clarke Broadcasting, “It will cost somewhere in the $400,000 to $500,000 range more per year to operate the juvenile facility versus continuing the old way of sending kids out of the county. However, we refer to that as the ‘social cost’ to give our kids the best chance possible to a better future because they will be able to stay home closer to their family, schools and friends. With those support systems, and the programs we’ll offer at the juvenile detention facility, we think we’ll get much better results with our youth.”
The next major project is the jail project, which Pedro believes could go out for construction bids this spring with a groundbreaking in the summer. It would then open as early January or February of 2019.
The future Tuolumne County Courthouse is still on indefinite hold. Pedro is hoping that Governor Jerry Brown will have additional funding for the courthouses in his January budget that is released later this month, or his May revised budget. If so, that project could also get underway late in 2017.