The Liberty County Re-entry Coalition has gotten the go-ahead to lease an unoccupied county-owned building.
The Liberty County Commission approved the lease last week.
The 205 E. Court St. building once housed the Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission.
“We are very excited and optimistic,” Coalition Steering Committee member Daisy Jones said. “The Board of Commissioners were very encouraging, and we definitely appreciate what they have done.”
The lease is for 48 months beginning Jan. 1. The Coalition agreed to make improvements to the building while it is in it. The cost of those improvements was estimated at $34,170, which is to be in lieu of rent.
The Coalition helps parolees and recently released convicts assimilate into society by trying to provide jobs, services and, on occasion, temporary housing.
The county program mirrors Gov. Nathan Deal’s Criminal Justice Re-Entry Initiative, which was launched in 2014.
Jones said the coalition is launching a 45-day campaign to raise funds for immediate needs to get the office open.
“We know eventually it (the building) will be in need of a new roof based on information we’ve received from roofers in the area, but that is not immediate. … What we want to do right now is get it up to a functional level,” she said.
Jones said the coalition is seeking donations of paint, wood and certain construction materials as well as furniture, office equipment, computers and printers.
“We have individuals who are professional and licensed individuals capable of doing painting and dry-walling and flooring, and so we are in conversations to get some pro-bono work done in the building,” she said, noting that the building is in good condition.
“There is some work to be done on the outside of it in terms of appearance,” she continued, adding that they also want to make the interior a welcoming place for those seeking assistance.
Basic funding, she said, would also include “… electricity, water, phone, liability insurance and things like that.”
The 45-day campaign will run until Jan. 25.
Jones said the coalition has received support and praise from the state.
“I’ve been talking to them over the weeks, and so we are still hoping to get some type of timeline as it relates to state funding,” she said.
The coalition is also partnering with churches.
“We are set to meet with the local pastors and the faith-based community so we can give them the update and engage them more specifically for faith-based services,” she said. “And we are planning a full public stakeholders meeting in January, where we can update our community so we can let them know where we are and our projected strategy going forward.”
The coalition is seeking donations.
People who want to make donations, or those who were recently released and need assistance, may call 912-492-2420.