Officials host open house for local juvenile offender program

A Buchanan County program for juvenile offenders got a long-overdue facelift this summer.

Posted: Sep 24, 2019 11:07 AM
Updated: Sep 25, 2019 4:53 AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) A Buchanan County program for juvenile offenders got a long-overdue facelift this summer.

Juvenile court officials will host an open house Tuesday afternoon for the public to come and see the upgrades made to Buchanan County Academy’s facilities.

The young men or boys have been sentenced in the Fifth Circuit Juvenile Office for breaking the law but do not present a danger to the community, are sent to BCA.

The academy, located just behind the North Shoppes on Green Acres Road, is a 30-bed residential facility housing low-risk youth offenders from Andrew or Buchanan County. While the juvenile detention facility is located next door, it is a separate program.

Construction began this summer to renovate the building and remodel the boys’ dorm and shower area.

Before the 100-day project got underway, the young men and boys showered in the basement of the building. Now, the bathroom is located in a large room next to where the boys sleep. The sleeping quarters were also upgraded with new bunk beds and wood floors.

BCA Director Dan Sharp said he believes upgrading the facilities sends a larger message to the youth in the program.

“These are kids that are a part of our community and investing in the building and the program is an investment in them,” Sharp said. “We want our kids to know that our community is invested in their future and that we want them to see that we are committed to them.”

The academy, nearing its 100th birthday, was established in 1923. Before the most recent renovation, the last big construction project was in the 1980s after a fire, said Linda Meyer, the Chief Juvenile Officer.

The academy provides structure in a youth’s day-to-day life, in hopes of correcting troublesome behavior. The young men and boys attend St. Joseph Public Schools during the day and then return to the academy at night for rehabilitative programs.

BCA teaches young people a variety of skills including how to grow their own food and healthy eating habits led by the local Missouri Extension office.

Sharp said the open house will offer the public a peek at all of the good things happening at BCA.

“We would really like to send the message that these are good kids. They are kids from our community and we would like to invite people out to see that.”

Buchanan County Academy is located at 4702 Green Acres Rd in St. Joseph. The open house runs from 11-3 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 24.

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