by Victor Lopez
MIDLAND COUNTY--Word that Midland County's Barbara Culver Youth Center might be shutting down is causing worry. So much so that county officials are doing damage control. They're also looking at ways to make sure the doors stay open.
The 44-bed facility has been in operation for over 40 years. According to County Court at Law Judge Elect, Kyle Peeler, the decision to close the Culver Center was never really made and more than just operational costs need to be considered before it is.
"The availability of having that facility here, assists the local police department, local school administrators and things of that nature. They will have a facility, right here, that they can utilize," Peeler said.
Peeler won't take office until January 1st. Combine his past experience as a counselor at the Culver Youth Center with his ideas for the future and you've got a pretty picture shaping up.
"I've actually gone out there and talked to kids, on Thursday evenings, for about a two year period. I gained, I thought, a good understanding of what we had out there. Make Midland the detention facility of choice for the surrounding counties that don't want to put together that type of facility," Peeler explained.
The number of juveniles in custody at the Culver Center, lately, has been less than the 44 it's equipped to handle. Peeler says, maybe that's due to the staff and services that currently exist, "Maybe, as a result of the counseling they received at the Culver Center, they are less likely or less prone to commit juvenile offenses in the future. That has a good effect on the community."
Surrounding counties have been concerned at the thought of Culver Center possibly shutting down. Peeler says, it's to their advantage to let them know, Culver has what they need and it helps Midland County out as well, "Medical evaluations, psychiatric evaluations, things what would reduce the work load on the neighboring counties, such that, we would become the juvenile facility of choice for the neighboring counties. It's a win-win situation."
Peeler praises the Midland County Commissioners for the work they've put in with regards to the center. He emphasizes the bottom line for Midland and surrounding counties.
"Yes, Barbara Culver Center is open. It's open for business, we want to bring your youth to our county. We have the facility. Let them help us pay for some of that fixed cost," Peeler said.
If the Barbara Culver Youth Center were to close, the closest juvenile facilities are in Lubbock, Post or San Angelo. The Ector County Youth Detention Center is not an option for Midland County.