Plan needed for group home

Published 12:18 am Sunday, September 21, 2008

In its 150 years, the Dennis J. Boll Group and Shelter Home has helped hundreds — maybe thousands — of troubled youth change their directions.

But the Ironton facility that houses the center may have outlived its usefulness. It is time for county leaders to look at all options to make this center part of the future.

And the timing is perfect.

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The Ohio Department of Youth Services recently informed the county that it had been approved for a $500,000 grant to either renovate or replace the facility.

Lawrence County Juvenile Court Judge David Payne, who oversees the operation of the group home, and group home director Brett Looney both agreed that the facility has a long way to go to be brought up to modern standards.

County commissioners have said they plan to weigh all options before making any decision. Careful analysis is certainly important and needs to be done.

However, based on preliminary information, it seems there may be a lot of benefit in taking this $500,000 and investing it toward a new facility, a project expected to cost more than $2 million.

A key benefit would be that it would ensure a modern facility that has the room and capabilities to grow for the future.

It would also open the door for potential commercial development in the area along U.S. 52 because the county or the city owns several pieces of property including the armory and the county garage.

This site was once considered a key location for a hotel/commercial complex. Maybe it could still become that again.

The Dennis J. Boll Group and Shelter Home may need to be torn down, but that does nothing to affect all the positive change that has occurred.

The true legacy lies in the good it has helped accomplish — and will help in years to come — and that is far more important than just bricks and mortar.