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St. Landry Parish resolution gives Acadiana Youth Center a green light

10/02/2009

The St. Landry Parish Council passed a resolution at its meeting last night, to allow Parish President Don Menard to continue negotiations between private landowners and our agency, to acquire land on which to build Acadiana Youth Center (ACY) in St. Landry Parish.

 

The decision followed a presentation by Deputy Secretary Mary L. Livers, who displayed architectural renderings of the proposed facility.  Remarks by Bridge City Deputy Director Michael Gaines, a Ville Platte native whose first professional position was in Opelousas, were warmly received.  Also present to answer questions were Assistant Secretary Girard Melancon, BCCY Director Linda London, General Counsel Martha Morgan, Lafayette Regional Manager Sharon Guillory and Communications Director Jerel Giarrusso.

 

Concerns by members of the public and the council centered around the proposed location. However, no one in the packed council chamber opposed creating the new, state-of-the-art, therapeutic facility within St. Landry Parish.  Most spoke favorably about bringing needed services to youth and families, as well as a significant economic development opportunity to the parish. 

 

Calling the facility a win/win situation, residents said St. Landry Parish can’t go wrong having the facility built there, and said they look forward to improved services for at-risk youth and their families as well as well-paying jobs for local residents. 

 

Support was voiced by a number of parish leaders in addition to Parish President Menard, including State Senator Elbert Guillory, State Representative Ledricka Thierry, Sheriff Bobby Guidroz, who pledged to be a “big part of the project,” Claude DeVillier, chairman of the Children and Youth Services Planning Board, and local minister Rev. Frank Ford.    

 

“The vote in favor of establishing a regional, therapeutic facility in St. Landry Parish is literally a dream come true for OJJ,” said Dr. Livers.  “We have been working for a long time to bring a regional secure center to the Acadiana area, and it now appears that OJJ will reach this goal.  Right now, 66 youth from Acadiana are scattered among our three secure facilities, mostly at Swanson.  The long distance from home means that families cannot realistically participate in treatment, and we know that family involvement is very important to the success of treatment programs.  I am very happy that we can now anticipate a date when Acadiana’s at-risk youth and their families will be afforded needed services close to home.”