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Donation of facility will serve region's homeless, mentally ill

City of Jonesboro

A donation of a former health care facility will be used as a new crisis center for law enforcement, as well as a ministry to serve the homeless in Jonesboro.  During a press conference, it was announced that the old Ridgecrest center on North Church Street in Jonesboro will be donated to the Homeless Ministries of Jonesboro.  This is a ministry of the Walnut Street Baptist Church.  Murl Smith is with the ministries. 

“This is a project we want to see the entire community involved with,” says Smith.  “Churches will be involved but we want businesses to be involved, the laypeople, anyone is welcome.”

Smith says the facility is 24-thousand-700-square-feet and has 83 beds.  Smith tells what the ministries will do with the building to help the homeless.

“This is not a place where the homeless will be just housed,” Smith says.  “This facility will be used to help them get back on their feet and to go back into society.  There will be jobs for them to do and they will run the facility.  There will be a ‘three strikes and you’re out’ policy.”

The facility will be leased to Craighead County for one dollar a year for one of four statewide regional mental crisis centers to be located.  16 of the 83 beds will be used for the mental crisis center.  Craighead County will receive $1.6 million to run the facility that will be used for Craighead County and surrounding counties.  Craighead County Sheriff Marty Boyd tells why this is needed.

“This problem is nationwide when we have to deal with mental health illness,” says Boyd.  “Previously, the services we had in place were not adequate to provide the help these people may need and this facility will do that.”

Boyd tells about the partnership between the ministries and the county.

“This facility will give the county an additional tool to help these people avoid jail.”

The facility will be deeded to the Homeless Ministries of Jonesboro. It will take about 30 to 60 days to complete the transaction and it should be open in January. 

Johnathan Reaves is the News Director for KASU Public Radio. As part of an Air Force Family, he moved to Arkansas from Minot, North Dakota in 1986. He was first bitten by the radio bug after he graduated from Gosnell High School in 1992. While working on his undergraduate degree, he worked at KOSE, a small 1,000 watt AM commercial station in Osceola, Arkansas. Upon graduation from Arkansas State University in 1996 with a degree in Radio-Television Broadcast News, he decided that he wanted to stay in radio news. He moved to Stuttgart, Arkansas and worked for East Arkansas Broadcasters as news director and was there for 16 years.