Washington Ridge to house adult offenders
Western Nevada County’s Washington Ridge Youth Conservation Camp will be transferred to the state Department of Corrections, and the 32 workers will be moving to new jobs under the budget released Monday by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Washington Ridge and a second youth conservation camp at Ben Lomond will begin housing minimum-security adult prisoners from the state prison system over the next four months.
Meanwhile, the California Youth Authority wards at Washington Ridge and Ben Lomond will be moved to CYA facilities in Pine Grove, in Amador County, and Ventura.
“The biggest impact is going to be on our staff because we have 32 Youth Authority staff who work at the camp and live in Nevada County,” said Stephen Gardner, superintendent of the camp on state Highway 20 east of Harmony Ridge.
“Many of them are going to have to work at other facilities,” he said. “All have been guaranteed jobs with the Youth Authority or the Department of Corrections.”
Gardner said the four CYA camps are well under their projected populations – Washington Ridge has 36 now and is budgeted for 85 – so the state is closing two camps to save the others.
“The types of young men the counties are sending to the Youth Authority now need many more services,” he said. “They are the types of kids you can’t put into a camp.”
The adult offenders who will be assigned to the camp will continue to work in community service, flood protection and fire protection, Gardner said.
A trio of teachers from the Nevada Joint Union High School District who taught the wards will be moved to other positions in the district, said district Superintendent Maggie Deetz.
Deetz said the district’s funding from the camp has been declining for several years as the camp served fewer and fewer wards.
“We have an outstanding program there, and I would have hoped the state would have recognized that and sent more wards our way,” she said.
David Mirhadi contributed to this report.
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