By Lisa Kopochinski
BRYAN, Texas—Phase one of the $17M renovation project at the Brazos County Juvenile Services Department in Bryan—a city located 86 miles southwest from Austin—is now complete.
This impressive project includes added facilities for the Detention Center and Juvenile Justice Alternative Education Program (JJAEP). Collier Construction of Brenham, Texas, is the general contractor.
“It’s going to help us out right now, but [the renovations] aren’t just necessary for now, but as we move into the future,” said Christopher Coffey, superintendent for Detention Services.
As the population of Brazos County grows, Juvenile Services Department staff expect to see the number of minors booked into the center increase.
A total of 32 beds have been added to the 44 beds the facility currently has. An Honors Dorm Pod has also been created so that minors may receive special privileges for good behavior such as extra phone calls, visits, and a later bedtime.
Also included in this project is increased outdoor recreational space including a large courtyard and several smaller courts. There are also plans to put in a basketball hoop and volleyball net.
Coffey said his favorite part of the project is the increased natural light throughout the building.
“It gives [kids] more of a feeling of being comfortable while [they’re] in the facility.”
Previously, the Juvenile Justice Alternative Education Program, was housed in a portable unit that contained only two classrooms.
“[The new facility] was built with trauma in mind,” said Todd McKey, superintendent of the JJAEP and the Academy, in a statement. “All of these kids have experienced trauma at some point in their life. We want this facility to be therapeutic for them.”
It is hoped that the four classrooms, a science lab and a multipurpose room will provide students with a sense of safety and the necessary transition back to their home campus.
At present, the Academy has six students enrolled, but hopes to accommodate 48 students in the future. Students are currently distance learning. The Brazos County Juvenile Services Department anticipates moving kids into the new facilities in January.