After 16 years of planning, the new Seneca County Youth Center became a reality when it opened its doors Feb. 7.
The new juvenile detention center can house up to 24 children, who will all get their own single dorm-style room.
"The pieces never quite fell into place until today," commissioner Jeff Wagner said at the Youth Center's grand opening. "So, on behalf of all of those commissioners, from all of those years, I want to say we're very happy and very thankful this day finally came. It's been a long time coming, but after you take the tour here in a few minutes, I think you will agree that it was well worth the wait."
PHOTOS BY ROB LEDWEDGE
A common area, where youths at the center will be able to read, work, eat and watch television, is seen above. The four doors not marked ‘exit’ lead to individual rooms.
The commissioners approved of building a new Youth Center after receiving a grant from the state of Ohio, which made the county accountable for providing 40-percent of the funds to build the center.
The county paid $1,252,000 of the total $3,130,000 it cost for the facility.
Director of the Youth Center staff, Ben Yourkvitch, gave a tour of the new facility and highlighted the many improvements the new center has to offer including: dorm-style living arrangements, improved restroom facilities, two classrooms with computers and SMART Boards and the gymnasium.
There were pictures of the old facility presented throughout the Youth Center during the tours given during the building's grand opening, to show members of the community how dilapidated the old building was.
In the old facility, the children did not have an appropriate amount of space to do exercises, he said.
"One of the things that was important for us was to build a gym," he said. "To let them be active, to get them the ability to move, so they're not stagnant mentally and physically."
The Youth Center will also provide all new recreation equipment for the children.
The building also has many occupancy sensors, which will shut off lights automatically when no one is in the room, in an effort to be more eco-friendly and save the county money.
The children staying at the center are required to attend classes all year round, and the new facility has provided each child with their own computer to do school work on.
The facility will also provide the children with many books that are popular with their age group.
"We're no longer confined by our old quarters now," Meyer said. "We can do more, and reach more, because that's what it's really all about it's all about reaching kids, helping kids reach their potential. It's about helping getting them out of cycles of violence, cycles of criminal behavior, cycles of poverty. Make a difference now, to affect generations ahead."