San Benito — Renovation of the old Harlingen police station is the first step in opening a new facility to be called The Bridge Community Outreach Center, [now called the Harlingen Outreach Center] which will be a joint program operated by Cameron County, the city of Harlingen, Harlingen school district and a half dozen social service agencies.
Programs to combat delinquency, school truancy, illegal drug use and gang activity will be offered at the center, said Tommy Ramirez Jr., executive director of the Cameron County Juvenile Justice Department.
Although work begins next week to renovate the police station, and about $50,000 has been collected toward the cost of remodeling and establishment of an operating fund, much remains to be done, Ramirez said.
“I’m excited. I feel like a kid in a candy store,” Ramirez said Thursday as business leaders began handing over checks to help pay for the estimated $200,000 it will take to renovate the former police station and to establish an operating fund for the center.
“The city gave the county the use of the facility for 20 years, if the county provides services,” Ramirez said.
Among supporters of the project who spoke Thursday and who handed over donations they had personally made and collected from others were Matt Gorges, Dr. Juan Villarreal and attorney Jim Solis.
“We’re going to make this happen,” Villarreal said.
Partnerships have been formed between Cameron County, the city of Harlingen and the Harlingen school district, and involvement of the business community and other groups is essential to the long-term success of the center, he said.
“One of the things that we’ve been able to do in the last seven and a half years is that we’ve been blessed to find all kinds of resources through grants and community partnerships,” Ramirez said.
When the center is opened in the former police station, offices will be provided for agencies such as YouthBuilding USA Affiliated Network, Texas WorkForce Commission, Criminon, Texas State Technical College-Harlingen, Narconon and Harlingen Sports Center, Ramirez said. Those agencies are reaching out to Cameron County to help provide services for troubled youth without receiving any increase in their funding, Ramirez said.
To Donate Call 956-412-0191
Donations to The Bridge Community Outreach Center may be sent to:
Cameron County Juvenile Justice Department
Attention: Chief Tommy Ramirez
P.O. Box 1690
San Benito 78586
By Allen Essex © Copyright 2011 Freedom Communications. All Rights Reserved.