By Sarah Pegues
CROCKETT – The former Crockett State School was toured Thursday, April 25 by Cornerstone Programs.
“We’re trying to arrive at our planning right now,” explained Cornerstone Programs CEO Dan Maldonado. “Part of looking at the facility is seeing what we might be able to do here. So, the truth of the matter is that right now, nothing is final.”
Cornerstone has facilities in five states, explained Maldonado.
“We have two facilities in Wyoming, we have two facilities in Utah, we have this facility here (Texas) and we have another program that’s not a facility based program, but it’s a program in Pennsylvania where we do reintegration back into communities. So, we’ve got experience in running facilities for states,” he said.
Following the tour, Crockett State School maintenance employee Jeff Higginbotham provided a description of the property.
“It’s approximately 80 acres – give or take some,” he said. “40 of it’s inside the fence, and 40 of it’s outside the fence. So, that means you can expand if you need to expand; if you wanted to add on.
“It’s a multi-purpose (facility),” he continued. “Usually, in prisons, it’s all one kind. As I showed you earlier, this is where you could have a nicer place if you behave with other co-students or residents. So, it’s kind of versatile that way.
“Whoever buys it will either be in the incarceration business or they will be in the refuge (business),” he predicted. “The ones we’ve had look at it were ICE – Immigration Custom Enforcement. We’ve had the Burke Center of East Texas – which makes up 13 counties – look at it.
“I think it’d be a good trustee camp for the adults,” Higginbotham said. “I think it’d be good if they made, like, a boot camp out if in some way. It’s already set up; you wouldn’t have to spend that much money.
“I know if you were to build this back over, it would be millions of dollars, because there’s new guidelines and stuff – like sprinkler systems and stuff,” he said. “This is grandfathered into state compliance, but if you started all over again, you’d have to be a lot stricter; you’d have to pour out more money to do it.
“It’s a good location,” he continued. “And believe it or not, this is a better facility than Corsicana, and Corsicana is still open and running. And this is a better facility than that; anybody will tell you that.”
Sarah Pegues may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.