The smell of fresh paint greets visitors to the newly constructed Franklin County Juvenile Detention Center in Ottawa. The building is mostly empty now, but come June 16, juveniles from Franklin, Anderson and Osage counties will arrive at the facility just off Highway 68.
The opening of the $3.2 million facility, which can house up to 14 juveniles, will be welcomed by staff, said Ethel Wallace, center director.
“I think it’s going to do a lot for their morale,” said Wallace of moving from the old center connected to Franklin County Jail. “We’ve been shuffled around a lot.”
But it’ll be more than a mood booster, she said.
The old center had only seven beds and lacked space for other programs.
They’ll now have “more space to give them the services they need,” Wallace said.
The center, which will house youths ages 10 to 17, has been several years in the making, after county commissioners approved a bond to build the 18,000-square-foot facility.
The center also utilizes some of the newer technology in corrections, such as a touchscreen door opening and security system. And no more clunky keys, as staff will simply wave an electronic gadget to open doors.
Wallace also noted the design of the building, which looks more like an office space than a correctional building.
“When you come off the highway,” she said, “you don’t really realize it’s a detention center.”