Consolidation could keep youth services facility in Hempfield open
By Rich Cholodofsky
Published: Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Westmoreland County officials have consolidated staff at the newly renovated Regional Youth Services Center in a cost-savings move designed to keep the Hempfield facility's doors open.
The dual-purpose facility houses a juvenile detention center and homeless youth shelter, but in the last year, the number of children ordered to serve criminal sentences there has dramatically dropped.
“It'll be more of a shelter outfit now,” said Commissioner Charles Anderson.
Both facilities will be operated by a common staff as part of a consolidation put in place late last week. The detention center and shelter previously operated with separate staffs and administrators.
As part of the move, detention center Director Pete Chapman resigned. Chapman, of Greensburg, worked for the county since 1990 and earned more than $62,000 last year.
Rich Gordon, who ran the eight-bed shelter, will serve as director of both operations, Anderson said.
County Commissioner Tyler Courtney said the decision to shift toward favoring the youth shelter was the reason for Chapman's resignation.
“We discussed it with him and felt a resignation was the best outcome. He didn't fit into the model of what we were doing,” Courtney said.
Commissioners since October have attempted to figure out what to do with the 30-year-old building that two years earlier reopened after a $4.5 million renovation.
The old 24-bed center for troubled youths was recast as a 12-bed detention center with a behavioral unit and new juvenile probation offices and conference rooms.
It was redesigned to include a youth shelter for up to eight runaways and truants.
On Wednesday, the detention center was two-thirds filled, with eight children occupying beds. There were seven juveniles in the shelter, according to officials.
In October, there were days when the detention center had no inmates, prompting the layoffs of four staffers.
“It's not cost-effective to keep operating it the way we have been. This (consolidation) is a cost savings,” Anderson said.
As part of the move, the county will no longer hire a private security firm to patrol the doors and perimeter of the facility. Those duties will be handled by the county's park police.
Commissioners said they have discussed the possibility of shifting the shelter operation to the larger side of the building that currently houses the detention center, essentially swapping the spaces used by the programs.
“It's too early to say what this place will look like a year from now,” said Commissioner Ted Kopas.
Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Unity airport steps up parking enforcement
- Quiet teacher shone as character actor
- Fayette commissioners move to limit comments
- Former Ligonier lawyer who stole from trust fund paroled
- Jeannette councilman charged after argument with city clerk
- System will allow video visits for inmates in Westmoreland
- Westmoreland County considers software upgrade
- Jeannette dirt bike rider collides with car
- West Newton fire company says debts paid
- Scottdale approves slight hike in park usage fees
- Derry Borough to buy dump truck