Note: This story appears in the Wednesday, June 5 newspaper on Page A1.
NELSONVILLE — SEPTA Correctional Facility will dissolve as a legal entity on July 1 and officially become a STAR Justice Center facility.
STAR, based in Franklin Furnace in Scioto County, has been operating SEPTA since Feb. 1, 2018 under a memorandum of understanding (MOU) approved by the boards of the two community-based correctional facilities.
“We have been operating the SEPTA facility for the past 15 months...,” said Charles Philabaun III, executive director of STAR. “We have implemented all of STAR’s philosophy, programming and procedures at SEPTA in those 15 months.”
The Nelsonville facility will be known as the “STAR Community Justice Center — Athens County Campus.”
The governing board of SEPTA approved a resolution on Jan. 30 to dissolve SEPTA as a legal entity effective July 1 and approved the name change. The boards of the two facilities will combine on July 1.
Steve Kinney, chief probation officer for Perry County Common Pleas Court, signed the resolution on behalf of the governing board of the Nelsonville facility.
Kinney told The Messenger that Perry County has used both STAR Justice Center and SEPTA. He said exit interviews done with those who successfully completed the STAR program found that 90 percent had a very positive reaction. While the old SEPTA Correctional Facility also garnered positive responses, it was by a lesser percentage, he said.
He said that STAR implemented a different drug treatment model at SEPTA.
According to Sara French, spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, the department has approved the July 1 change and supports it.
The department has funded both facilities as community-based correctional facilities, and the boards of both asked the department to accept one application to fund STAR Justice Center and the Athens County campus. July 1 is the start of the next state fiscal year.
In February of 2018, a spokeswoman for the department said referrals to SEPTA had been declining and referral agencies had expressed concerns with the operation of SEPTA. She said that in October 2017, the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction suggested to the SEPTA governing board that it consider engaging the services of another successful community-based correctional facility. She said the department supported the decision to bring in STAR.
Athens County Jill Thompson has been serving as fiscal agent for SEPTA. Last week, the county commissioners approved an agreement under which Thompson will temporarily continue as fiscal agent after July 1 during the transition to the Scioto County auditor, who is STAR’s fiscal agent.