The Duncan Banner

September 6, 2013

Hope builds county youth shelter

Rebeka Miller
The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN — Construction for the new Stephens County Youth Shelter has been underway for about three months and several Youth Services employees can’t stop themselves from almost daily looks.

Shovels hit the dirt for the shelter’s groundbreaking at 806 N. 5th in mid-June and construction started just a few days later. At this point, the foundation has been laid and framework has begun by Hope Construction.

“We’re right on track,” said John Herdt, executive director of Youth Services. “On the schedule we have, is it will be done in the middle of December.”

Fundraising began for the project in January 2010, with a goal of raising $1.1 million. When the bid was awarded to Hope Construction with a bid of about $749,000, the project account held about $820,464. However, because the bid does not include furnishing and landscaping, the project goal is still at the original amount.

Money is pledged to come in early next year and the project committee sent in another grant application last month.

Herdt said the weather, so far, hasn’t messed up anything for the laborers. The rain weeks ago may have delayed them about a day. There is a committee that keeps an eye on all of the progress and receive a monthly statement from the construction company.

“They keep in contact and there are a lot of checks and balances,” said Herdt. “I go out just to look sometimes and I think when it’s done, it’s going to be really big.”

When completed, the shelter will be more than 5,500 square feet. This is almost twice the size of the current shelter.

Others in youth services are also looking forward to their Christmas gift. More than three years of fundraising took place for all of the funds to be ready to build the new shelter.

“Driving by the site makes me very pleased,” said Barbra Davis, youth shelter director. “It takes it from being a desire to something that is going to come to fruition.”

The shelter staff drive by the site occasionally and Davis said they are thrilled. Everyone is waiting for all of the construction to be done.

“It’s an exciting moment for them,” she said. “It’s not only a new shelter for the community and a new home for the kids, but a new workplace for the staff.”

Davis said it’s been difficult to keep from getting out of her car to walk out to the site and look around. She wants to be able to imagine what it will be like and picture how it will look. Several of the children at the shelter have also seen the new site and Davis said they are excited as well.

“Some have mixed emotions,” she said. “They want the new shelter for the next generation of kids but they have an affinity for our home even though it’s cracked. It’s their home.”

A few of the children have even suggested names for the new shelter out of their excitement. Once the shelter is completed, Davis said there will be an open house and everyone will be invited.

“All the kids will know where we moved to,” she said. “It’s important that the kids can find us and the families know where we are.”