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Loganville City Officials, Police Chief, Back Residents in Opposing Transitional Home

Loganville police chief said last time a similar transitional home for troubled youth was in Loganville, it was only discovered when residents perpetrated a home invasion on one of the neighbors.

City officials will likely vote Thursday on a Resolution backing Loganville residents' opposition to a transitional home for troubled youth. The home is proposed for a property on Hodges Road in Loganville, just outside the city limits.

The Walton County Planning Commission is scheduled to hear the proposal at 6 p.m. Thursday. It will then go before the Walton County Board of Commissioners on Jan. 8, 2013. It is, however, already running into a lot of opposition. 

Residents in the Pines at Tara have been circulating a petition to present at Thursday's Planning Commission meeting in Monroe listing their concerns and opposition to the plan. Councilman Mike Jones raised the subject at Loganville's City Council work session on Monday. He asked for a Resolution at Thursday's City Council meeting in support of the Loganville residents. Although it is outside the city limits, Jones said it does have an impact on city residents. Mayor Ray Nunley agreed.

"That's what we were elected to do, protect our residents," Nunley said.

Walton County Commissioner Chuck Bagley asked that the council hold off until after Thursday's Planning Commission meeting when more details would be available. He also pointed out that the county usually left city zoning issues up to the cities and noted that this zoning application was in the county.

"This is a new application and we don't even know what is in it," Bagley said, adding he would be at the commission meeting and would text one of the Loganville officials with the results of the proposed application if it was available in time. 

"(Rev. Bengie Evans) is asking for 10 residents, but if he drops to six he doesn't even have to come before the board - he is already approved by the state," Bagley said. "We still have to find out the new plans, who his counselors are and what connections he has to Walton County."

According to the application, 5.16 of the 20.4 acre property on Hodges Road would be used for the transitional housing. The faith-based program, named The Weekend Academy, plans to house youth, primarily males, between the ages of 16 and 24. The youth would be from both Walton and Barrow counties. TWA has partnered with the US Department of Agriculture for this project with plans to incorporate a farming component into the program. Jones said it is part of the governors plan to offset the state's $1 billion shortfall in jail facilities. He said the Walton County sheriff has taken a position against the proposal. Loganville Police Chief Mike McHugh took that same position.

"Last time we had one of those homes in Loganville, we found out about it when residents perpetrated a home invasion armed robbery on one of the homes," McHugh said. "We didn't even know about it before."

Former Brave Otis Nixon had an application denied for a similar home in Social Circle in 2010. He went ahead and opened it anyway.

"That has now been closed down and he is facing charges," Bagley said.

Some people, however, feel it is better to have these youth under supervision than out on the streets.

"Well, if they can't have it there, they need to have it somewhere," Tammy Osier commented on Patch. Osier worked with the boot camp for troubled youth run by Lt. Joseph Cantrell of the Loganville Police Department. "I have worked with troubled youth for a long time and it's better to have them in a place where they can have a chance at learning workable life skills (under supervision) than out on the street and into trouble unsupervised. They are there either way."

The boot camp has since closed down due to lack of funding when the government grant ran out. 

Tammy Osier December 12, 2012 at 01:17 PM
I would have to know more about this particular program before making any judgements about it, and I don't. Whether this gets approved or not, I hope that someone with a lot of experience and a good vision for implementing a good program is able to get something going somewhere. This is not something you undertake without some experience. When the boot camp was open, at least 4 nights a week, those kids were not out roaming the neighborhoods-they were in a structured environment learning life skills, self discipline and getting one on one tutoring. Our program had a partnership between school, judicial system (courts & local Police) and close home contact. The boot camp was the first program that I've ever worked for that had that much support from all sides. Unheard of, and who knows how far we could have taken it had we not lost our funding. As it grew, it got better each year it was open. Here's another thought to consider... Keep in mind is that as Gwinnett grows, so do the counties surrounding it. Walton is very unique in the provision given to youth through the dedication of those who work with them. As we grow, it is my hope that the best services for success will be in place right here in this great county (in appropriate places, of course). As a good friend and comrade that I have been proud to work with (in this field) once said, "You deal with them now or you deal with them later."
Tammy Osier December 12, 2012 at 01:57 PM
This actually brings up a very good question...does anyone have any ideas as to what you'd like to see here for our youth other than after school playing basketball and doing homework? While those serve their purpose, there is the population of kids that need more. I have a lot of good ideas, but would like to hear from parents and others. I'd love to hear input from those who support programs for youth.
LJ December 13, 2012 at 03:34 AM
I think this is a great idea. We have youth and young adults that are in a transition time - for those who are struggling to get on the right path, this could help.
D. Moser December 13, 2012 at 02:38 PM
I am opposed to this type of facility to be situated so close to so many neighborhoods. This type of facility would be better served in a very rural area or better yet in Barrow County.

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