JEFF DAVIS PARISH, La. (KLFY)- One town in Jeff Davis Parish is up in arms tonight over a halfway house opening right next to the high school. The reason: no one told them or the city council about it.
The Halfway House is called Raised to Life Ministries.
It will open next year in Elton on Pine Street.
People living in Elton are concerned that the halfway house is located near the high school on Second Street.
“I don’t know what kind of people’s coming into my neighborhood. I don’t know if my child’s going to be safe or if something’s going to be happen there and there’s going to be an issue and the school’s going to be placed on lock down,” said Laurie, a resident who didn’t want to disclose her last name. “It’s not just my child. It’s everybody in our neighborhood.”
Laurie lives right next to what will be Raised to Life Ministries, formally known as the Keagan Center. She said she knew nothing about it… having found out about the halfway house through Facebook.
“I just don’t like the fact that it’s so close to the high school and to where a bunch of kids play being that this is something that’s been forced on our community,” Laurie said. “We knew nothing about it. No one ever asked how if we were open to this kind of stuff and a lot of residents would be, given the location be different.”
Another resident agreeing saying,”I really feel betrayed that it was done so hush-hush and just under the table kind of like I feel like it was a deal done without any consideration for how the rest of us would feel.”
Raised to Life Ministries will soon be a place of discipleship in the Town of Elton. The owner, Ash Cassidy, said most men that will come through have dealt with drug or alcoholism at some point in their lives.
“We deal with people that we’re simply a discipleship program,” explained Cassidy. “All we’re doing is taken in men that have had issues in their lives and they’re seeking help beyond themselves and we’re going to teach them the Bible.”
The center is very close to Elton High School, leaving many nearby parents concerned.
“It doesn’t make me feel safe at all. At all. I have two little girls. One of which will be going to the junior high which is across the street from it in a couple of years. I don’t feel safe at all,” said one resident.
News 10 asked, “Ash, regarding the location of it… I know a lot of residents reached out to us with the high school being so close. What do you have to say about that?”
Cassidy’s reply: “Anytime, there’s a school just like here at Teen Challenge at the center I currently help run, we’re right across the street from Indiana State University and to our left is a community center so it’s not uncommon.
“I think the biggest issue people have his ‘oh, no, there’s a bunch of people on drugs in one place. Well, that’s not actually what’s going on by the time they get to our center, they’re already free from drugs,” Cassidy added.
Elton City Council Member Kesia Lemoine said, “It’s a great idea, but not in the community of Elton and the residents of Elton should of been better informed instead of a Facebook post.”
News 10 asked Cassidy, “Security measures, will there be any in place?”
Cassidy responded, “We have guys. You have interns that work for the facility that work underneath me. They stay overnight with the residents. The center will be monitored by cameras and they’ll have an alarm system.”
The center will be a 12-month program. Cassidy said some men will come from jail but will be clean from drugs. The application process is very strict, not allowing anyone that has any sexual offense or aggravate charges on their record.
“Too many people are dying of addiction and are just caught up in different types of bondage and addiction and we really feel impressed on my wife and I’s lives that we’re supposed to go back to that area and give people a safe environment to be discipled and be mentioned to show that there is a better way to live their lives,” said Cassidy.
Cassidy said Raised to Life Ministries will be open in September 2020 with construction beginning in January.