In recent months the Kosciusko County Commissioners have been approached by Pierceton residents voicing their concerns over the Pierceton Woods Academy. Today, the three-member board signed a letter to Indiana State Representatives asking that they evaluate the facility.
Commissioner Bob Conley said, “We’re asking them to take the bull by the horns and do something so the people of Pierceton feel safe.”
With the letter, which requests state representatives assure the facility is properly licensed for the juveniles who reside and are sent there, the commissioners attached a dispatch accounting of the calls from the facility that local law enforcement has responded to over the last year.
“The state legislation carries a significantly greater weight than the county commissioners, so we are requesting and strongly encouraging you to take the lead on this matter and help resolve the safety and security issues at hand,” the letter stated.
Pierceton Woods Academy is operated by Lifeline Youth and Family Services. According to Lifeline, it is a safe and structured environment for boys age 8 to 21 to learn academic and life lessons. It was built in 2008 and currently includes an alternative school, counseling center, detention center, dorms, a cafeteria, indoor and outdoor ropes course, gymnasium and playing fields.
Largely, police are called to the facility for fights and runaways. The most problematic case came in December when Dakota Kimbler, 17, ran away from the facility, hid in the vehicle of an employee of nearby Paragon Medical and shot the man in the chest. Kimbler has been charged with attempted murder. (See story)
The commissioners noted the agency is a social service agency and not a law enforcement agency, but they want to assure residents that it is properly licensed and taking necessary actions to keep the town of Pierceton safe and by involving state lawmakers they feel it will be addressed.