OGDEN — A new facility soon to open will provide needed upgrades to the area’s juvenile justice system.

The Weber Valley Youth Center will fully open in late May or early June if all goes as planned, according to Assistant Program Director Tracy Hart.

The youth center, which broke ground April 27, 2016, will consolidate eight juvenile justice programs and five buildings into the single structure, according to Jackie Chamberlain, public information officer for the Utah Division of Juvenile Justice Services.

Building costs are estimated to be around $15 million, according to previous Standard-Examiner reporting from 2016. 

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The programs housed in the new building will include early intervention services, secure detention, case management and transitional support for youths returning to the community, Chamberlain said in an email Monday.

The five buildings consolidated into the new facility housed the soon-to-be transferred services, Chamberlain said. The new building is located in Ogden just off 12th Street in front of the Weber County Sheriff’s Office and county jail. 

The youth center will replace the aging Weber Valley Detention Center in Roy, a facility built in 1965.

The differences between the two facilities are stark.

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Patrons of the old building maneuvered through narrow hallways and dimly lit areas, and there was little space for family visitations or video court hearings. Additionally, the recreation yard butts up against a Roy Public Works building, making the juveniles within the chain-link fenced area easily seen, and the intake area is narrow and only has one holding room, making it difficult to separate people coming into the building.

The new facility features wide hallways, brand new classrooms and natural light in almost every room, something that particularly excites Hart. Each room has one-way windows which allows sunlight while maintaining privacy for those inside.

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Assistant Program Director Tracy Hart looks into one of the rooms inside the detention wing of the new Weber Valley Youth Center during a tour Monday, May 7, 2018, in Ogden. A bathroom privacy screen along with a one-way window to let natural light in are two of the features Hart pointed to.

In the new visiting room, families are greeted by places to sit and tables for board games. In the old building, families were put in a virtually empty room with a chair or two during visits.

“Our goal is to unify families,” Hart said. 

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The visiting room at the new detention wing of the Weber Valley Youth Center in Ogden has plenty of space for families to visit, including an outside area. “Our goal is to unify families, to keep families together,” said Tracy Hart, assistant program director.

The new facility also offers a padded room in case a juvenile is trying to inflict self-harm, something that was not available in the Roy building.

When it opens, the youth center will offer 24 beds for “locked detention,” a short-term confinement for juveniles waiting for their cases to be adjudicated and ordered to be there by a judge. 

However, the building has two wings that will not be used when it opens, allowing officials to double the number of beds if needed, according to Debbie Whitlock, deputy director for the Division of Juvenile Justice Services. 

Services offered at the building include after-school programs, Day Skills Intervention, a receiving center for arrested juveniles and crisis counseling for runaway or homeless kids. 

The facility will have an open house and ribbon cutting ceremony Friday, May 18, to commemorate the opening. 

Contact reporter Jacob Scholl at jscholl@standard.net or follow him on Twitter @Jacob_Scholl.

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