MAY 2, 2011
A large group of citizens and public officials attended a public hearing Monday at the Evangeline Parish Courthouse to show support for a proposed new state operated juvenile detention center.
The Evangeline Parish Police Jury called the hearing to receive public comment. Dr. Girard Melancon, Assistant Secretary with the State Office of Juvenile Justice answered questions posed to him by members of the audience.
The State of Louisiana plans to spend $20 million dollars to build a new juvenile detention center to house juveniles from the Acadiana area. There will be 85 jobs with an annual payroll of $20 million dollars, The facility will house up to 72 juveniles.
Louisiana is looking for a 10-20 acre parcel of land to house the new facility with access to utilities and roadways.
Currently, juveniles from our area are being transported to a facility in the Monroe area.
Melancon said there 4-5 parishes in the Acadiana area that are in the running to locate the facility.
The state will begin accepting proposals from interested parishes beginning this Friday. A decision will be reached in six weeks. It will take 2-3 years for the center to be completed.
Police Jury Vice President Bryan Vidrine announced that the police jury has ten acres at the Ward One Industrial Park for a possible site. In addition, one private land owner has expressed an interest in selling property near the Industrial Park.
Both Ville Platte Mayor Jennifer Vidrine and Evangeline Parish Sheriff Eddie Soileau spoke up in favor of the proposal.
Mayor Vidrine called the center "A life saving facility which will give our youth a second chance close to home."
Sheriff Soileau said "I am 100 percent for it but we also need to deal with the parents of these youth. We need to find a way to hold them accountable."