MARINETTE —  The long-awaited reopening of the former Crossroads Group Home for juveniles in the Town of Peshtigo with the name Share Academy under the management of Advocates for Healthy Transitional Living is set to finally take place.

“Last week the state came and did a site visit at the Share Academy,” Health and Human Services (HHS) Director Robin Elsner told the HHS Board on Wednesday. “They had a list of things they needed for Advocates for Healthy Transitional Living to complete.

“They completed them and the surveyor came this morning. We have a probationary license.”

A loud applause came from the six-member board, who were originally told the facility off of Schacht Road would reopen before the end of 2018 or early this year. In recent months Elsner voiced frustration over the delay in the state licensing Advocates to manage the eight-bed facility.

“So we’re ready to roll,” he said. “It is a six-month probationary license and that’s always done for new entities.

“We’re going to place our first juvenile at the Share Academy on Monday. In three or four weeks, we should definitely have three or four there.”

The county purchased the facility last June for $220,000 from the Group Home Association, which notified it earlier that it no longer wanted to operate the group home under a contract with the county because of liability concerns and difficulty staffing it.

The facility closed last June and the county agreed soon thereafter to lease the facility to Advocates for Healthy Transitional Living. While the county was waiting for the state to issue a group home to Advocates, the Marinette County Maintenance Department was busy refurbishing the facility.

Elsner said in the past that the Crossroads Group Home was important because it helped the county avoid high-cost placements of juveniles at far-away locations.

“The two juveniles we have at Lincoln Hills will likely have a stepdown to Share Academy when Lincoln Hills feels they’re ready for discharge,” he said Wednesday. “It’s all predicated on when Lincoln Hills feel they are rehabilitated to a point where they can be discharged to a lesser restricted environment. When that occurs, they can go to Share Academy.”

Elsner said Share Academy will be a “mixed home probably with boys on the first floor and girls on the second.”

The facility will also be very secure, he told the board.

“We upgraded the alarm system,” he said. “We spent about $2,600 so the windows and doors are all alarmed.”

The HHS Board of Wednesday approved a contract with Camera Corner of Green for the purchase and installation of camera equipment for $7,035.

Elsner said the “powers to be seem to think we need to have the camera system in place before we place kids at Share Academy.”

“They had cameras in there before, but they didn’t work real well,” he explained. “This camera is not required for the license, but it gives us additional security to monitors. 

“There’s nine cameras altogether to monitor kids in the hallways, not in the bedrooms. There’ll be a central spot in the office to monitor the cameras.”

Elsner said, “There’s also a camera outside so staff will be able to monitor anybody coming to Share Academy that parks in the lot” and comes to the door of the facility.

“Sometimes (in the past when Crossroads was open) we had parents who felt they could come and visit without notice,” he explained. “We frown on that.”