The Hastings Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center is making a difference in the lives of its female residents and in the Hastings community.

Camella Jacobe, Hastings YRTC facility administrator, and Howard Warford, facility program manager, gave a program update at the Hastings City Council work session on Nov. 15.

“We thank you for the opportunity to be part of your community,” Jacobe said. “It’s been a success in our eyes because we transitioned very well to Hastings. We were welcomed by a lot of individuals in Hastings. We retained a lot of the staff from the Hastings Regional Center program. Recently we’ve been seeing some retirement, which was expected.”

The facility houses girls and young women, ages 14-19 years old, who are adjudicated by the courts. There are 24 beds in the facility, which has been averaging 13 residents.

Youths moved into the Hastings facility on April 12.

“They come to our facility,” Jacobe said. “We work with them to become productive citizens back into the community.”

Hastings YRTC offers a lot of diverse programming for the youths, including gender-specific programs that are evidence-based and allow staff to work with the youths on the issues of trauma and moral reasoning.

“And to be able to empower them as young females,” Jacobe said.

The facility has an educational institution, the West Hastings School, that is fully accredited through the Nebraska Department of Education. One girl graduated with a diploma in May.

“Our girls graduate from our program if they are in the position that they can graduate, or we offer a GED, as well, for them,” Jacobe said.

The program includes group and individual therapy. There are a lot of activities including those emphasizing independent-living skills.

Some of the residents have moved on to independent living programs in Hastings.

“We’re excited to be here,” Jacobe said. “We’re excited to have the opportunity, and we just wanted to let you know what we’re doing and what we’re about.”

Councilmen Ted Schroeder and Butch Eley, who represent west Hastings and Ward Two on the Hastings City Council, were proactive in transitioning the new program into Hastings.

“We were concerned about what was going to take place,” Schroeder said. “The boys were leaving. We felt like a little negativity got out there.”

Schroeder and Eley helped establish an advisory board for the facility that now has eight members.

The advisory board initially met monthly.

“We wanted to make sure we were right on top of it,” Schroeder said.

It now meets every other month with the plan to transition to quarterly meetings next year. Schroeder said it is an active group.

“Being on there myself, I wanted to make sure that everything is right for the community,” he said.

Board members went to YRTC for a pizza party that was attended by four of the residents.

“I was really pleased with those four girls, the stage they were at,” Schroeder said. “You could see they came from troubled families or situations. I was very pleased those four girls might have opportunities. They all talked about how soon they thought they could get out. That’s what you want to hear.”

The girls are looking at their own education and opportunities.

“What we’re really trying to help them with is to get them out in the community,” he said. “We’re working on several things they could be supervised and come out in the community and get some exposure in the city of Hastings.”

Also during the work session, council members reviewed the annual report from the Heartland Pet Connection. According to the report, Heartland Pet Connection, which just completed its 17th year, saw 609 animals from Hastings in the past year.

Of those 609 animals, 272 were cats. Of that number, 116 cats were adopted, 38 were reclaimed, and 132 were euthanized. Of the cats euthanized, 84 were feral cats and two were court-ordered bite cases.

Of 323 dogs, 48 were adopted, 260 were reclaimed, six were reclaimed bite cases, one was a rescue case, and 45 were euthanized. Of the 45 euthanized, four were court-ordered bite cases. The numbers from categories for different kinds of animals don’t add up because there are always animals that carry over from one year to the next that are still in the shelter’s care.

Also during the meeting, council members discussed moving meetings from the Hastings Public Library back to the Hastings City Building beginning in 2022.

City meetings were moved to the library in June out of concern about environmental issues the City Building including mold, asbestos and radon.

Staff members involved in setting up meetings at the library requested moving the meetings back.

“Most of the environmental issues have been mitigated, and it would just make a lot of sense and be a lot easier on our staff if we moved back to city hall,” City Administrator Dave Ptak said.

Lee Vrooman, director of engineering, also gave an update on changes to the city’s emergency snow routes.