by Victor Lopez
ECTOR COUNTY--It's going to cost tax payers a little more than $900, 000. But that's the pricetag to help meet new state requirements.
"One of the unique things about the Ector County Youth Center is that it was, actually, the first post-adjudication facility in the state of Texas," Lou Serrano, Director of Juvenile Services for Ector County, said.
Built in 1974, the detention center sees about 700 kids come in their doors every year. Then, their program provided residents access to different types of outdoor recreation. By September of this year, they will be required to get at least 10 hours of physical activity per day, outside their rooms.
"Part of their program is a full educational calendar which includes physical educational services and also recreational services as mandated by the State of Texas," Serrano explained.
But their current rec space doesn't quite meet those needs.
"The kids, right now, are really restricted to a small space where they are allowed to run. It's probably about 50 - 60 feet, where they can run an excercise at this time," Serrano said.
According to Serrano, the new 9,000 square foot facility, will literally give the kids room to run and play, "It's a full basketball court. It will have volleyball capabilities. It will have an area for the kids to run sprints up and down and those types of activities."
Serrano goes on to say, the new facility is not being built to offer any kind of special treatment to these juvenile offenders, but rather out of necessity, "This wasn't anything that we wanted to have built, so the kids could have a more fun time as they're detained, but as a place where we could excercise them and give them the required physical education that they needed."
Groundbreaking for the multi-purpose building will be January 12th with an estimated completion date set for sometime in November.