Red River Valley Juvenile Center temporarily closed
The Regional Corrections Board for Tri-County Community Corrections voted to temporarily close the Red River Valley Juvenile Center (Secure Detention) at a special board meeting held on September 27. TCCC Executive Director Andrew "Andy" Larson told the Times that the temporary closure of the center was recommended for a variety of reasons including the time frame for reconstruction of the non-secure detention side after rain damage, the ability to provide cost-effective services with only one side of the center open, and it was feared they'd see prolonged secure detention placements due to their inability to transition an adolescent to a non-secure setting.
"Recognizing the impact that this closure will have on employees, Tri-County will attempt to locate work assignments within the agency to minimize the need to implement temporary layoffs," Larson explained. "The temporary closure will likely go into effect on Monday, October 11th and will remain in place until the Non-Secure Detention side of the RRVJC is nearing completion."
"Alternative housing options for adolescents needing secure detention placement will likely occur at either the Northwestern Minnesota Juvenile Center located in Bemidji, MN, or the West Central Regional Juvenile Center located in Moorhead, MN," he added.
The RRVJC received extensive water damage during a pop-up rainstorm which occurred on May 14, 2021 while a large section of the roof was being replaced. Large quantities of rainwater inundated the non-secure detention (residential) living unit of the center along with the electrical equipment room.
"Water entering the electrical equipment room, which contains electronic security equipment, through the exposed roof resulted in locks cycling for no reason and camera systems short-circuiting," Larson detailed. "The entire RRVJC was determined to be uninhabitable and emergency evacuation plans were implemented to move all residents to alternative housing locations in Bemidji, MN."
"The true scope of the water damage was not fully understood until a clean-up crew was brought in and began measuring moisture levels of wall coverings and ceiling materials," he continued. "Nearly every wall and ceiling panel within the residential side of the facility tested at very high levels of moisture and needed to be removed. The non-secure detention area has been completely gutted."
The anticipated time frame for reconstruction of the non-secure detention side of the facility is "significantly" longer than originally anticipated, Larson added, with June 2022 opening being "best-case scenario" with an October 2022 opening as the "current worst-case scenario."
"While we have reduced our staffing levels, we continue to operate with two-staff on duty 24 hours/day to allow for cross-gender searches/supervision and for safety purposes within a secure detention environment," said Larson.