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Craighead County scrambling to find 'Plan B' for regional crisis center

Johnathan Reaves, KASU News

Craighead County Sheriff Marty Boyd says he was extremely disappointed that a homeless ministry decided not to accept a donation for a former nursing home to be used jointly by the ministries and the state as a site of a new crisis stabilization center.  Boyd tells the Craighead County Quorum Court that he is back to square one on how to bring the center to Jonesboro.

"There really is no 'Plan B' when it comes to this," says Boyd.  "We are looking at building a facility near the current county jail, but we don't know how much that will cost."

Last week, Homeless Ministries of Jonesboro announced that it had accepted a donation of the old Ridgecrest facility on North Church Street for use as a facility for the homeless and they were going to lease part of that facility for the crisis stabilization center.  The board of directors of the ministry decided not to accept the donation after opposition to the plans surfaced.  The crisis center is designed to hold 16 beds and would provide services for those who are mentally ill, instead of just arresting them.  A state grant of 1.6 million dollars was awarded to Craighead County for the operation of the facility.  It is designed to be used by 13 surrounding counties.  The money cannot be used to build a facility.  Boyd says he hopes to have a plan soon because there is a possibility that if the center is not up and going by a certain time frame, the money may go back to the state.

"We don't know how long we have," says Boyd. "It is realistic to think that we might not have the time to build a new facility from scratch.  At some point soon, we have to start operating it.  If we don't have a building, we may lose that grant money."

Boyd says he will try to get some initial cost estimates of how much it would take to build a metal building on jail property to house the center as well as how fast it could happen.  Boyd says he will give an update to the quorum court at the next meeting.  Additionally, Sheriff Boyd, Craighead County Judge Ed Hill and Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin could meet as early as this week about the situation.