Lucedale Residents Back Bethel Boys Home

Lucedale native Chris Hilbun is not alone in his reaction to the Bethel Home decision made Thursday.

"I'm glad they're keeping it open. There are some kids that really need the discipline," Hilbun said.

Kids like a former employee at Affordable Tires on Main Street. Owner Randy Moorman says he's seen the home do wonders for teens.

"I employed one of the guys who was a graduate from the Bethel home. [He was] my best employee, great work ethic and great manners," Moorman said.

Thursday in Chancery Court, the Mayor of Lucedale backed Bethel too.

"I know that the city of Lucedale and our Board of Alderman support the home. We support it because we are familiar with the kids that come there, and I think we've seen kids turn around and make good citizens," Lucedale Mayor Dayton Whites said.

But support wasn't the only thing given. The state gave the school a strict set of guidelines to follow. Although resident Kathy Howell thinks the school is beneficial, she says she's glad the state made these changes.

"Make sure the parents know what's going on. Because it's suppose to be bettering the children and not making things worse for them," Howell said.

"There will be a lot of lives as far as the kids go, that will reap the benefits," Moorman said.

These Lucedale residents say if the school follows the state's new guidelines, the community will reap these benefits too.

Only 60 boys are at the Bethel Home now, but officials say the home often houses twice that number. The state says the agreement made Thursday will require changes such as surveillance cameras throughout the complex, as well as a nurse, a barber, and a board of directors to supervise decisions.

And the Reverend Herman Fountain, Bethel's founder, has 119 days to step down from Bethel management.

by Claire Nelson