February 08, 2012 | 07:59 AMELKHORN — If everything stays on schedule, on May 1 three Walworth County contactors and members of the Lakeland Builders Association, will break ground for a new building to house the Walworth County Alliance for Children.
WCAC's new headquarters should be completed by Jan. 1, 2013, said Jean Kruzan, president of the Lakeland Builders Association and owner of J. Kruzan Construction & Remodeling, Lake Geneva.
Kruzan said in an interview Monday the WCAC project will be rolled out for the builders association members at their next regular meeting Feb. 15.
After that, the general contractors will be seeking bids for the project and will begin searching for donations and discounts from the general public, local suppliers and from Lakeland members, Kruzan said.
The other two contractors are Randy Thelen, owner of Thelen Total Construction Inc., Elkhorn, and Jerry Lycholat, co-owner of Knutson Brothers II LLC, East Troy.
Kruzan said having three general contractors involved in the project will make sure the construction is done right.
Kruzan said WCAC came to the builders association and asked for assistance in building the new headquarters.
"They wanted to have our help, because we're local," Kruzan said. "This is a plus for us. We can give back a little bit and keep our members involved working for a worthy cause."
The WCAC works with social services and law enforcement to provide forensic interviewing and medical examinations to children who may have been abused, said Paula Hocking, the WCAC director.
The alliance deals with children who are victims of sex abuse, physical abuse, and neglect, or who have witnessed crimes.
Bill Henry co-owner and vice president, of Kehoe-Henry Associates, Elkhorn, an architectural and engineering firm, said the WCAC has been housed in three rooms in the county Health and Human Services building, 4051 County Highway NN, Elkhorn.
According to WCAC figures, in 2011 alone the alliance had 945 referrals and conducted 249 forensic interviews of children who had been abused.
"They're cramped," Henry said.
Late last year, Walworth County gave WCAC five acres of land next door to the health and Human Services building, for $1.
"The County Board has been phenomenal in their support," Hocking said.
Since then, Henry has been shepherding the project through the conditional use process.
Kehoe-Henry is also doing the architectural work and some of the engineering on the project, Henry said.
Because the land is in the town of Geneva, Henry has to deal with the Geneva town zoning process as well as county zoning.
Henry said the next public hearing in the quest for a conditional use will be before the County Zoning Agency Feb. 16.
The town of Geneva Plan Commission recently recommended approval of the conditional use, he said.
The single-story, 4,300-square-foot building will have a secure lobby, two forensic interview rooms, an observation room, a medical examination room and a therapy room.
Hocking said the WCAC's new facility will be a "one stop shop" for youngsters who are abused.
WCAC is a nonprofit, private organization and all funds are donated or through grants and foundations.
The Walworth County Alliance for Children was formed in response to a state law change that said county Child Protective Services does not have to deal with noncaregiver crimes against children, Hocking said.
To fill that gap, Children's Hospital sponsors children's services in Racine County, Kenosha County, Milwaukee County, Walworth County, Fox Valley, Wausau and Eau Claire, Hocking said.
What WCAC does is coordinate law enforcement and social services in providing care and assistance to children who have been abused, Hocking said. Hocking is an employee of Children's Hospital of Milwaukee.
In Walworth County, 17 jurisdications are involved in WCAC, she said.
"We all work together with the child's interest in mind," Hocking said.