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Haven Women's Center set to open in old Parks facility
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A nonprofit offering help for abused women and children will take over a vacant City of Turlock building, following council approval Tuesday night.

The Turlock City Council unanimously approved a five-year lease agreement with Haven Women’s Center of Stanislaus County for the building which formerly housed Turlock Parks and Recreation, 301 Starr Ave.

“This is such a great thing for Haven and for Turlock,” said Haven Executive Director Belinda Rolicheck. “We are just so excited we can’t even tell you.”

The center will offer support groups, legal services, crisis intervention, and referral services to survivors of domestic and sexual abuse, women, children, and teens alike – just like the center’s Modesto sites. The site will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Services will likely be limited at the beginning, particularly regarding legal affairs, as Haven will staff the center by sharing employees with its Modesto sites. Haven is pursuing funding to set up a dedicated staff, Rolicheck said.

The new Haven Women’s Center is being termed a win by the City of Turlock, too, redeveloping a building which may have otherwise sat empty for some time while providing a needed service in Turlock.

“It's a quiet need at times, and it's a desperate need,” Councilwoman Mary Jackson said.

The city’s Redevelopment Agency purchased the building from the City of Turlock when Parks and Recreation moved to 144 S. Broadway in 2011, intending to redevelop the site into affordable housing. But when the state shut down RDAs statewide in 2011, Turlock was left holding “an empty building,” with no funds available to build housing.

Haven's rent will be $1 per year, and the center must pay all property taxes, insure the building and maintain it for the entire lease period.

Through her participation in countywide housing groups, Pitt said she realized Turlock was underserved in this area.

Turlock Housing Program Services Manager Maryn Pitt and Rolicheck started talking, and eventually the idea of the center came about. The location is ideal, both said, benefitting from its proximity to the Turlock Police Department and Emanuel Medical Center.

Rolicheck apologized that Haven lacked the funding to start a shelter in Turlock, like those it operates in Modesto.

 But Rolicheck said Haven center is ready to go. The phone company is already booked to come today, setting up phones for the new nonprofit.

“This is really long overdue,” Rolicheck said.



Council honors passing of Wallen

Tuesday’s Turlock City Council meeting opened on a somber note, with Mayor John Lazar holding a moment of silence in honor of the passing of former Councilmember Billy Wallen.

Wallen first served Turlock as a police officer, following his Aug. 11, 1969 hiring. He eventually retired as a police commander on May 2, 1998.

Wallen then ran for City Council, earning a seat in 1998. He was reelected in 2002, serving two full terms.

Services for Wallen will be held 11 a.m. Saturday at Monte Vista Chapel.