May 21, 2008 Edition

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Board purchases building for Children's Shelter

Board members of The Children's Shelter visit their newly acquired property located at the corner of West Main Street and 107 Benson Drive. They are (from left): Judy Turnbull � board president, John Allen, Suzanne Allen, Milton Smith, Jim Jansen and Ernest "Junior" Briner. Judy Clark (not pictured) is also a member of the board.
John Bland

The Children's Shelter Board of Directors has announced the purchase of a building located at 107 Benson Drive in Walnut Ridge as the future site of The Children's Shelter.

The former residential care facility is ideally suited for the shelter's needs. It contains numerous bedrooms, bathrooms, a kitchen that includes some appliances, common areas, parking and backyard.

Families, Inc. Counseling Services is selling the property for $130,000, with a down payment of $15,000 and financing for 15 years, a price and terms with which the Shelter Board is very pleased.

The building, previously known as "Our House" should accommodate up to 12 children from birth to 18 years who have been displaced from their homes through no fault of their own, said Judy Turnbull, board president.

Shelter board member Milton Smith said the board is pursuing a license. Tentative plans are that six beds would be available to provide temporary shelter for up to 45 days and six beds would be available to provide emergency care for up to 72 hours.

Plans include sale
of block of land

In January of 2007, the effort to establish a temporary emergency children's shelter in Lawrence County received a substantial boost with the donation of over five acres of land in Walnut Ridge. Descendents of the Neil and Imogene Sloan and Earl and Polly Sloan families, including Smith, deeded the land to the shelter.

The property, which formerly housed the Sloan cotton gin, is located on Southwest Sixth Street, between Elm and Pine Streets, and bordered by the former Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad spur designated for the Rails to Trails project.

"Plans are to sell at least a block of the donated property to raise money for the shelter," said Smith. "We're still in a heavy fund-raising mode." The property will be sold by the lot or as a whole block. Interested buyers can contact Smith at First National Bank.

The board plans to retain part of the property in the event that a future need exists for a new shelter building, Smith added.

Volunteers, funds
materials needed

Turnbull and Smith said volunteer help will be needed to help paint the inside and outside of the newly acquired building. Among the material donations that would help the shelter are: fencing for the backyard, a heavy-duty washer and dryer, linens for the twin beds, towels and hygiene kits.

Kari Shanks, manager of Wal-Mart, is assisting the board in an effort to gather hygiene kits.

Smith said the board's plans are to continue fund-raising efforts, pursue a license, ready the building and hire a director or administrator for the shelter.

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