MARINETTE — The  former Crossroads Group Home for juveniles in the Town of Peshtigo with the name Share Academy and the management of Advocates for Healthy Transitional Living is close to being ready to open after failing to do so at the beginning of this month as was projected.

Health and Human Services (HHS) Director Robin Elsner told the HHS Board on Wednesday afternoon that he is hopeful that Advocates for Healthy Transitional Living will be licensed soon by the state to operate the facility thanks to the efforts of Facilities Director Marty Keyport to get fire and building inspections of he building done by the Town of Peshtigo.

“They were told by the state that they couldn’t submit the application until they had all the documents,” Elsner explained. “We came to find out that they needed a fire inspection and a building inspection.

“Martin Keyport was able to get the fire and building inspections done. I can’t believe the state wanted a fire inspection and then a building inspection. That’s what they requested and Martin made it happen. Thanks to him.”

The county purchased the facility in June for $220,000 from the Group Home Association, which notified it earlier that it no longer wanted to operate the eight-bed facility under a contract with the county as of June 15 because of liability concerns and difficulty staffing it. The county has been waiting for Advocates of Healthy Transitional Living to obtain a group home license from the state so it can operate the facility.

“I anticipate that Advocates submitted the application today (Wednesday) and hopefully having all the information, they’ll (the state) be able to run through this very quickly,” Elsner said. “We definitely have a couple of juveniles we would like to place at Share Academy now.

“So we’re hopeful that this (license application) will move forward very quickly now and finally we will be able to reopen the group home and place kids there. I’m excited about that. We are starting to furnish the home.”

He commended Keyport and his staff “for doing a great job renovating the former Crossroads by painting it and cleaning it up.”

“Him and his staff have done a lot of work out there,” Elsner said. “It really looks good, the facility is back to where it needs to be with hardwood and laminated floors throughout the house. I think it will hold the test of time now.”

HHS Board member and County Supervisor Tom Mailand said he was at the home to install a dishwasher (as an employee of Drees Electric) and agreed with Elsner’s praise of the work done by Keyport and his staff. 

“The county administrator (John Lefebvre) actually showed up out there in paint clothes to paint the place,” he said. “I was impressed that he had the time to come and volunteer and help with that process.”

Keyport showed the county board Infrastructure Committee photos of the interior and exterior of the facility on Wednesday morning.

“It’s a beautiful property on a beautiful piece of land,” he said. “When we walked in the door there were various colors all over the place.

“The carpets were soiled and torn and it just wasn’t a very fresh place. Basically we repainted almost everything. You’re seeing new flooring. We cleaned up as much as we could and repaired closets, simple stuff that was in pretty rough shape. We replaced some faulty switches and outlets and lights, just some basic things you would do if you were moving into a house yourself. It’s a very pleasant place to work.”

Keyport said except for needing to install a television and waiting for some flooring to arrive, his staff and him were pretty much done with the project.

“We’ve got the fire inspection reports and occupancy permits, all that was straightened out this morning,” he said. “I’m meeting with the security system folks in the morning (today) to give the system a tuneup. I’ll be working with Kevin Solway (County Information Services Director) on the camera installs once we talk with Share Academy about where they’re going to be.”

He said other than the flooring installation and some of the inspections, all the work was done “in-house,” including by himself, his staff and Lefebvre.

“There was a variety of staff that was in and out of there to help this project to move along,” Keyport said. “My goal was for it not to cost the county a whole lot of money to freshen this house up and give it a good coat of paint.”

He said it was a “pretty easy job to paint an unoccupied house.”

“You couldn’t ask for a much simpler job,” Keyport said. “So I didn’t feel it was necessary to go outside and hire somebody to do that. I hope it will be nice for the folks that will be residing there.”