Pastor explores idea of Gospel-centered halfway house

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

HUNTINGBURG — A local pastor believes that a halfway house is needed in the county.

Rick Ballard, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Huntingburg, talked to the Dubois County Commissioners Monday about the idea. Ballard is chaplain for the Dubois County Sheriff’s Department, the Huntingburg Police and the Indiana State Police Jasper Post.

“Right now it’s just an idea,” Ballard said this morning. “I want to get as much information as possible about what would be needed and required to do this, before we decide if we will try to establish one.” He also plans to talk to Huntingburg officials as well as to the church’s members this week, he said.

Ballard told the commissioners that he’s looking at having a facility possibly on church property that would have an area for about six to 10 men and one for about six women. He’d like for it to be for people with minor offenses.

“The people would be the minor offenders,” he said. “I don’t want anything major. It would be a drug and alcohol rehab type facility.”

Along with the halfway house, Ballard would also like to have a pregnancy resource center and women’s shelter for the public.

If a facility was placed on the church’s property, it would be newly built. The church’s 5-acre property is east of OFS Brands and has few nearby residents, Ballard said. He wants to have a full-time counselor there as well as counseling interns.

Part of the funding for the facility would come from the rent from the offenders who stay at the facility, similar to what the community corrections program does. But he is also looking for other funding.

“I don’t have the details as far as financing,” he said. “We’re looking at some grants, and anything the county would recommend, I’m open to hearing it.”

Ballard has talked with the county judges, who favor the idea, he said.

“The judges said that if we had someone who was minor risk, they have no trouble assigning them, but we’d have a say, to say yes or no,” Ballard said. “Based on my experience with the police and what I’ve seen, there are some who I would not want there.” He said the facility would look for those minor offenders who want to have a Gospel-centered approach to rehabilitation.

Since the site is in Huntingburg, the city’s officials would be the ones to decide if a facility could be placed on the site, County Attorney Art Nordhoff said.

Sheriff Donny Lampert told the commissioners that he supported the idea.

“The churches right now have a lot of people who are coming to their churches and getting interested in changing their life,” he said. “But the churches really don’t have that one place they can stay.”

By having a facility, minor offenders “can have a place they can go to, instead of going back to the same environment,” Lampert added. “They could go to a halfway house and continue their rehabilitation.”

Commissioners President Chad Blessinger also expressed support, but added that there will likely be concerns from the public.

“You are going to get a million questions,” he told Ballard. “But as a public official, I would love to have that in Dubois County. It is needed and valuable.”

Ballard said that right now, he is just collecting information on the idea.

“I’d rather get the information upfront,” he said, “rather than make mistakes later.”




More on DuboisCountyHerald.com