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Detention center opening delayed

December 03, 2002|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Security issues and water damage to a gymnasium floor have delayed the opening of the 24-bed Western Maryland Detention Center for juveniles on Roxbury Road until at least the first of the year, state officials said Monday.

"I know that the security situation has been addressed," said Dave Humphrey, spokesman for the Maryland Department of General Services. "I can't go into details about that because they are security matters."

Because of water damage in the gym, Humphrey said he understands the floor will have to be sanded and refinished. "And the contractor would prefer to have that done before the building is occupied," he said.

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During the delay, most juveniles from Maryland's westernmost counties who need to be detained more than a few days are taken to the Alfred Noyes Detention Center in Rockville, Md.

The general contractor, Baltimore-based Whiting-Turner, broke ground on the $6.9 million juvenile facility in July 2001, Humphrey said. Completion was expected by the end of August.

The new detention center will replace an eight-bed facility in Hagerstown. The old holdover facility at 201 Jonathan St. most likely will be sold, according to county officials.

About 30 people will work at the new regional juvenile detention center, which is near the prison complex south of Hagerstown.

The 28,000-square-foot facility will have intake, assessment, dietary and administrative space, as well as a fenced outdoor recreation space, said Lee Towers, spokesman for the Maryland State Department of Juvenile Justice.

When the contractors are finished, detention center employees will spend 30 to 60 days performing a "shakedown" of the facility, Towers said in August.

During a shakedown, employees learn the layout of the building and systems are checked to make sure everything is operating properly.

Boys and girls from Washington, Garrett and Allegany counties who have been arrested and are ordered to be placed in detention while they await court appearances would be taken to the facility, Towers said in August.

It also would house juveniles who otherwise would be sent to the Noyes Center, which is a long drive for family members who live in Western Maryland, he said.

One of the reasons for building the juvenile facility is to keep detained juveniles closer to their families and to where they are to appear in court, Towers said.

Under construction is a similar 24-bed, $7.8 million detention center in Wicomico County and a $45 million, 144-bed facility in Baltimore City, Humphrey said.

Once those are open, travel time for families of juveniles will drop in those areas.

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