NEW PHILADELPHIA (WJER) (July 1, 2022) – The fate of the Multi-County Juvenile Attention System’s attention center on Reiser Avenue in New Philadelphia beyond this year is unclear.
Tuscarawas County will vacate the system and send local juvenile offenders to the Muskingum County detention facility in Zanesville starting in 2023. MCJAS Superintendent Jamey McKenzie says the 24-bed Tuscarawas Attention Center, built in 2013 and 2014, could possibly continue housing the overflow of youth from Stark County next year. But right now, he doesn’t know.
“I question if it will be operating in the same capacity. I definitely have my concerns,” said McKenzie.
McKenzie says MCJAS remains committed to the center’s 16 employees.
“My comment to them was that if this building closes, we want you to stay with us. We want you to come and look at the other facilities. We want you to tour them,” he said.
He says MCJAS will also assist them in finding employment elsewhere if they end up declining the offer to relocate within the system.
Tuscarawas County Commissioners said the switch to Muskingum County for juvenile detention services will provide additional programs for the teens and save the county about $1.1 million annually, at the recommendation of Tuscarawas County Juvenile Court Judge Adam Wilgus. McKenzie says he was disappointed by their decision and wasn’t aware it was officially happening until after the commissioners voted on it Monday, though he had learned during discussions last September that changes were being considered.
“Judge Wilgus has actually been very open with me. He even brought it up during a judges’ meeting we had via Zoom,” McKenzie said.
McKenzie says the two sides were supposed to have a meeting on July 26th where MCJAS was to present its stance. But now it’s apparent there is no need for that.
The Multi-County Juvenile Attention System will still serve Stark, Wayne, Columbiana, and Carroll counties after Tuscarawas County withdraws next year.