Girls YRTC move to Hastings delayed

Published: Jul. 15, 2020 at 10:56 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 20, 2020 at 6:36 PM CDT
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - On Monday the Nebraska legislature voted to delay moving the Geneva YRTC program to Hastings.

Lawmakers voted to delay the move until March 2021.

“Amendment 3088 to LB1140 was adopted this morning. It will block the proposed YRTC move to a new or existing state or private facility until March 30, 2021, expect for emergencies,” said Hastings mayor Corey Stutte.

The amendment passed 32-3 with Senators Bostelman, Geist and Lower opposing.

Last week the Department of Health and Human Services announced it would likely close its Geneva facility, which currently houses just girls, and would have moved to the Hastings Regional Center.

On Sunday, Stutte wrote a letter to Senator Sara Howard, chair of the legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee, which stated in part, “I am writing to you today to voice my opposition to the current plan to move a portion of the female Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center (YRTC) to the Hastings Regional Center (HRC) campus and the Youth Chemical Dependency Program from HRC to Lincoln. I believe a comprehensive community and state-wide focused conversation is needed to develop a strategic plan on mental health and incarceration needs throughout the state. The biggest unfunded mandate on local governments in our state are these two issues.

Our four hour notice regarding this recent program plan last Wednesday from the CEO of the Department of Health and Human Services before it was leaked to the press is unacceptable. I spent the weekend answering calls from community stakeholders with questions that I cannot answer, because we were never consulted as a community beforehand.”

Stutte’s letter to Howard included some 30 questions, which the mayor said came in from the community over the weekend. The questions expressed concerns about security, law enforcement, healthcare, job security and education.

Stutte said the city would like to know who will be responsible for teaching the girls in the program and who will fund it. He said they’d also like to know if the city will be locally responsible for providing security at the facility.

“We care about your safety. We care about the resources spent with tax payer money and we want to make sure the time is spent communicating with local stake holders on this,” Stutte said. This was something that was really sprung on us at the last minute and when those sorts of things happen you just try to work through those issues.”

Stutte said they don’t believe this move will increase jobs in the area. He said it’ll likely decrease incomes for the people that would be employed there.

Although there are concerns regarding the situation, Stutte said the city isn’t against the YRTC program moving to Hastings. He said they’d just like to have a strategic plan going forward.

Stutte said he’ll be meeting with the CEO of DHHS to discuss these questions and concerns on Tuesday, and work to develop that plan.

Copyright 2020 KSNB. All rights reserved.

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