Curry County’s juvenile department will soon relocate to the Colvin Building.
Also referred to as a juvenile court, a juvenile department provides sanctions and services to youth ages 12-17 who have been referred by law enforcement for committing a crime. Currently, the county’s juvenile department is located within the county courthouse in Gold Beach, which also houses the sheriff’s office and the jail.
Wendy Lang, director of the juvenile department, highlighted the need for a new space during a board of commissioners meeting last Wednesday. Lang said it's been difficult to maintain confidentiality in the small office they’re in now.
“If there’s a youth in our office, I can’t even be on the phone because you can hear everything in our office,” said Lang. “We literally have a piece of blue painter’s tape on the floor to keep kids on one side and confidential records on the other.”
As it’s against the law to hold youth in an adult jail, and there’s no youth holding center, Lang said they are keeping detained youth at their desks.
“It wasn’t too long ago that I sat in my vehicle outside with the youth in the backseat...because we just didn’t have a secure place to keep the youth.”
Typically, local juvenile departments are responsible for operating alcohol and drug prevention education programs in the county. Lang said they are in the process of hiring an employee to operate those programs, however, there’s no room for them in the office.
Lang recommended the county move the juvenile department into the Colvin Building, which is currently unused.
Most recently, the county-owned building on Colvin Street housed the Curry Homeless Coalition, but it has remained vacant since CHC’s lease expired in December 2020.
“I believe this is an opportunity for the juvenile department to go in and make it a full-center, with little or no cost to the county,” said Lang.
After completing a few minor renovations, Lang said the department could move in and use the new space to expand services, including kick starting their alcohol and drug education program.
Commissioner John Herzog, who recently toured the Colvin Building with Lang, was in favor of the move.
“I think it’s a use for that building that would be fantastic,” said Herzog.
Commissioners Chris Paasch and Court Boice were also in favor of the move, and the board voted unanimously to approve it.