bald ridge lodge openingBald Ridge Lodge ribbon cutting ceremony video.
The only shelter for young men in Forsyth County is nearly ready to open.
State representatives, local judges and county and city leaders gathered Thursday at Bald Ridge Lodge for a reception and ribbon cutting in honor of the new facility. They were joined by representatives of various charitable organizations and others.
The facility is a nonprofit organization that will offer counseling, mentoring and support for "at-risk" boys ages 12 to 17, and temporarily house up to 12 of them at a time.
The lodge was abuzz as attendees strolled through its rooms, ooohing and aaahing over the interior décor.
Some munched on catered food while they read inspirational mottos like "Let him sleep ... for when he wakes he will move mountains" painted on the bedroom walls.
George Pirkle, who serves on the lodge's board of directors, said the Georgia Department of Human Resources Office of Regulatory Services conducted an inspection of the facility Monday and granted a temporary license.
That means that once the lodge is fully staffed officials can begin taking in boys. Pirkle expects that to happen in just a few weeks.
"I have to kind of pinch myself because we have talked about this and hashed it over and thrashed it out and gone back and forth and now it's here," he said.
"It has actually happened and it's a million-dollar facility and it's completely debt free."
The facility was built entirely with funds donated by the community.
Lisa Meyer, chairwoman of the lodge board, said a licensed professional counselor will be on staff at the lodge to provide individual and family counseling for the youth.
"A fact that's kind of gone unmentioned at this point is there's nothing like this anywhere nearby," she said, noting that the closest facility similar to the lodge is about 80 miles away.
The lodge has nine bedrooms, a kitchen, computer room and laundry area, among other amenities.
Normer Adams of the Georgia Association of Homes and Services for Children attended the event. He said facilities like the lodge give a community the resources to care appropriately for children who have been removed from their homes.
"The Bald Ridge Lodge is a place people can turn to when those children are in such need of care at a critical point in their lives," he said.
The lodge has been a long time in coming.
Officials broke ground on the facility in November 2006, which was after about two years of planning and fund raising.
Buddy Lang and Cumming Municipal Judge Charles Smith, who both spoke at the ceremony, are considered the lodge's founding fathers.
Smith said the idea for the lodge came about four years ago after his son, a deputy with the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office, told him the county had a facility for troubled young women but nowhere to send boys.
Not long after that conversation, Smith said, he spoke with Ruth Goode of the United Way of Forsyth County at a Rotary Club meeting.
She confirmed that such a facility was "one of the greatest needs the county has."
"I looked at Buddy and said let's do it," Smith said. "And Buddy said go for it. So I stood up and said starting right now we're going to have one."