The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

February 22, 2014

150: Stop shelter at Laurelton

Union County residents, pols meet over plan to house cons

By Rick Dandes
The Daily Item

— MIFFLINBURG — More than 150 residents and their elected officials crowded the Mifflinburg Middle School auditorium Friday night to discuss a controversial pastor’s plans to create a shelter at the former Laurelton Center that would house, among others, parolees finishing sentences for sex-, violence- and drug-related crimes.

Speaker Pam Hackenberg made it clear that “we are not a committee, just concerned citizens.”

Their concerns are over the Just For Jesus Homeless Outreach Ministry which, according to its website, exists to “care for the homeless and less fortunate.”

But residents living near the 338-acre Laurelton campus are banding together, vowing to prevent Jack Wisor from expanding his mission into their community.

Just for Jesus operates facilities in Brookville and Brockway, Hackenberg said.

“We know that 34 of the residents are registered sex offenders, 29 in the highest levels possible,” she said.

“To our knowledge, no contact has been made to any agencies for permits, sewer capacity, taxes, zoning regulations, codes compliance or residency requirements.”

The shelter for convicts will impact residents’ lives in different and significant ways, Hackenberg said.

Hackenberg, and others, believe that taxes will be raised to cover increased resource usage. They also believe property values will increase and that there will more community safety concerns.

Several residents in the audience said, “We will do anything we can to stop this.”

Union County Commissioners Preston Boop and John Mathias attended the meeting, as did state Rep. Fred Keller, R-85, of Kreamer.

Keller was asked what he is doing to help.

“I have been working with this group of citizens and investigating the group,” he said. “I am your representatives and I support my constituents and understand your concerns. “If I were you and doing this, I would be shouting this from the mountaintops.

We will do what we can to get the facts out. But right now, you know everything I know.”