LOGAN — After countless hours spent on working with local agencies and department representatives — along with the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC) — the Hocking County Commissioners signed a lease agreement on Thursday regarding the repurposing of the former Hocking Correctional Facility.
The former correctional facility officially closed its doors in March of 2018 and was immediately sought after as a multi-use facility. With roughly 18 different organizations involved in the planning, together they formed the Appalachian Recovery Center project.
The project was created around four main ideas:
• Create a new model for offering wraparound services to individuals suffering from drug dependency.
• To mitigate the economic impact on the region due to the closure of the Hocking Correctional Facility.
• Fund operations without increasing costs to local jurisdiction.
• Construct the model so it complements and does not compete with local service providers and the Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail.
This facility will be used to house females charged with a misdemeanor and will include medically assisted treatment, crisis housing, inpatient and outpatient therapy and exposure to education and job skills to improve employment prospects for those in recovery.
In a community forum with agency representatives working on the project last fall, Hocking County Municipal Court Judge Fred Moses, explained how much of a need this facility is for the area.
“Unfortunately I’m having to put people in jail a lot of times to keep them clean number one and number two, to keep them from dying — which is a huge issue — and number three is get them to the point where they’re clear enough to start talking about treatment,” mentioned Moses as he explained his daily job as a judge.
“I always go back to the simple things — you have to treat people like people. Incarceration is not always a place you want to put somebody, but if it keeps them alive for three of four days to get them clear or get them to actually commit to a program — and I run lots of programs and my programs are fairly successful for the way we do things,” Moses added.
On Thursday, the Hocking County Commissioners signed a lease agreement with the DRC, who is leasing the facility to the county for $1 per year for 15 years. The Hocking County Sheriff’s Office will oversee the jail portion and treatment space will be shared between area agencies involved such as STAR Community Justice Center, TASC of Southeast Ohio, Hopewell Health Centers for Behavioral Health and Substance Abuse Services and others.
Moses stressed the county is desperate for jail space as he had seven people in court on misdemeanor charges and was searching for jail space.
The DRC will retain ownership of the facility and is offering to pay for the startup costs associated with running the facility. Additionally, it will create roughly 50 to 55 jobs on the jail portion alone.
“I’d like to echo Judge Moses, this is a big deal. The public needs to recognize that this is unprecedented; I mean we’re rewriting the rules. There are a lot of people paying attention to it. The burden is going to fall primarily on Judge Moses and the Sheriff’s Office and they need to be supported and their efforts need to be acknowledged,” stated Commissioner Gary Waugh.
“Thanks to your hard work,” Moses stated to the commissioners. “It wasn’t just me — I had a crazy idea and everybody ran with it. Sometimes crazy ideas work and hopefully this will be a success.”
“Please understand that this does not sever ties or anything with the Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail. We will still be a member county of SEORJ, primarily with our male inmates and we don’t anticipate this facility opening before the first of the year — we take ownership of it on Aug. 1,” concluded Commissioner Jeff Dickerson.