County goes for funding at Placerville juvenile hall |

County goes for funding at Placerville juvenile hall

The El Dorado County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday authorized an application for a state grant to fund a new juvenile detention facility in Placerville.

The county is asking for funds from the State’s Juvenile and Adult Local Detention Facility Construction Grant Program, which makes money available for such projects on a yearly basis. The county is asking for $8.15 million from a pot of $20 million in state set-aside funds for small counties.

El Dorado County is seeking to replace the existing 40-bed juvenile facility on Fair Lane Road in Placerville. The facility, which was built in 1969, is badly in need of repair, and a consultant hired by the county determined that it would not be cost-effective to try and renovate the existing facility. Preliminary plans call for a new, 80-bed facility on the same site.

“We got the grant application in before the deadline, so now we keep our fingers crossed that it’s approved,” said El Dorado County Deputy Chief Probation Officer Barney Scholl. “We’re in competition with other counties for the available money. After the State Board of Corrections conducts a technical review of our proposal, they will make a decision.”

The board’s decision to approve the grant proposal came after a month or so of debate concerning the pressing need for a juvenile facility in South Lake Tahoe – a concept which is not provided for within the current grant proposal.

In February, Fifth District Supervisor Dave Solaro pulled a preliminary Juvenile Grant Proposal item off the board agenda, until a more complete study of Tahoe’s needs could be completed.

It was ultimately decided to go ahead with the grant proposal for Placerville only – because that tactic would have a better chance of succeeding.

“But the groundwork has been laid to eventually get a facility for South Lake Tahoe,” Solaro said. “We’re working as a team to develop a plan for a 30-bed facility here.”

A facility at Tahoe is badly needed, according to local officials. A recent state juvenile justice report indicates that more than 40 percent of El Dorado County juvenile arrests occur in South Lake Tahoe.

“We’re all exploring what would be realistic,” said Judge Suzanne Kingsbury, who handles South Lake Tahoe’s juvenile court cases. “Right now the feeling of the team seems to be that putting in a facility application for Placerville has a better chance of success. A facility for South Shore, however, is needed very badly, and I think it’s doable.”

A new, bigger facility in Placerville would give Tahoe officials more leeway in keeping violent juvenile offenders under wraps. But problems such as transportation, inclement weather and family separation would still be there for South Shore juvenile offenders and their families.

“The board is looking at every opportunity to fill those needs (for South Shore),” said Second District Supervisor Ray Nutting, who represents Meyers and Tahoe Paradise. “We realize the need for a facility in Tahoe, and we’re dedicated to getting that done.”

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