In less than a month, the state-owned STAR Academy in Custer will go up for bid again.
The 170 acre site was home to a juvenile correctional facility went to auction in October, but didn’t sell.
If the facility doesn’t sell in January, one state lawmaker says he wants to introduce legislation reopen the STAR Academy.
State Representative Tim Goodwin originally voted to sell the facility, but he says that was a mistake. He says the state needs a place to send juveniles.
“The big thing is, it’s going on the auction block January, 4. Hopefully it doesn’t sell and if it doesn’t we can put knew legislation in to reintroduce STAR Academy. We can do that,” Goodwin says. “But if it sells on January 4, it’s sold. There’s nothing we can do about it, and it’s not the governor’s fault, it’s the legislatures fault because we authorized it.”
STAR Academy saw fewer juveniles on campus following a more localized approach to juvenile justice reform.
Others say that, and re-opening STAR Academy would cost the state to much money.
Governor Dennis Daugaard’s Chief-of-Staff Tony Venhuizen says reopening STAR academy wouldn’t make sense.
“There are a lot of rumors going around on this topic, but the reason STAR Academy was closed was there wasn’t the number of youth to support it anymore. It’s in a remote location, it’s a large, expensive campus with a lot of old buildings,” Venhuizen says. “It struggled to attract the workforce necessary because of its location. There are many many reasons why it’s a facility that no longer made sense.”
Star Academy was appraised at around $2 million. State law requires that state property be sold at, at least, the appraised value. In the fall, no one bid at that amount.
Venhuizen says there’s been some interest from potential buyers because of publicity of the campus.