By Mary Drier
CARO — Friday’s tour of state and local officials of the soon to close Tuscola Residential Reentry was canceled Thursday afternoon.
The tour that had been scheduled for the facility was to do an assessment for other possible uses for it. Although the delay is disheartening, it could be beneficial.
“This cancellation is not all bad as it may allow representatives from the Department of Veterans Affairs of Michigan to join us,” said 84th Rep. Kurt Damrow (R – Elkton) who is helping to spearhead efforts to find another use for the 160-bed facility.
Last month when Damrow made the announcement about the Michigan Department of Corrections’ decision on the closure, he suggested using the site as a veterans’ home.
Having Department of Veterans Affairs of Michigan representatives along on the initial tour might be a boon for that proposed use.
The need for services continues to increase as WW II, Vietnam, Korean veterans age. Plus, there is an influx of Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans who need services.
“The meeting with the Michigan Department of Correction director is being rescheduled to June 18,” said Damrow noting details are still being worked out.
An exact date of when the reentry center on Chambers Road outside of Caro will close has not been set yet. The timing will depend on when the Ryan Correctional Facility in Detroit is converted to the Detroit Reentry Center. When completed, the Tuscola Residential Reentry facility will close and that program reestablished in Detroit.
A reentry center helps those who spent time behind prison bars readjust to the outside world and helps them start a new life. It helps parolees reconnect with society, and with resources for jobs, education, substance abuse and other issues.
Caro’s reentry facility covers 114 acres. The center was initially part of the Caro Regional Center built in 1914 to house epilepsy and mentally impaired patients, but that section was closed in the 1970s. Camp Tuscola, which was a 260-bed minimum security prison, opened in May 1985, in two refurbished Regional Center buildings, but the annex part of the prison camp closed in Sept. 2003, and then the main camp closed June 1, 2005.
Mary Drier is a staff writer for the Tuscola County Advertiser. She can be reached at [email protected]
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