The Central Texas Hospitality House's lodging facility

A temporary lodging facility for family members of inmates in Gatesville is shown in this artist’s rendering. The Central Texas Hospitality House is in charge of the project.

Courtesy photo

GATESVILLE — Central Texas Hospitality House, a nonprofit group that serves the needs of family members of prison inmates, announced on Thursday plans to build an 18,000-square-foot center on five acres near the Woodman State Jail.

For more than six years, the group has operated a 1,300-square-foot welcome center at the site, providing day services on weekends for children, spouses and parents of offenders.

In addition to more space, the new center will provide overnight lodging for family members who have traveled long distances to visit incarcerated loved ones.

“We are pleased to add to the infrastructure of the social safety net,” said Charlie Wise, a longtime activist volunteer and director of development for the Central Texas Hospitality House.

Wise was emcee at a news conference Thursday to announce the expansion plans.

The group has set a goal of $850,000 for the project, Wise said, and so far $250,000 has been raised from “individuals, churches and organizations that are sympathetic to our cause.”

The group does not take any money from federal, state or local governments, Wise said.

Donors will have the opportunity to name all or a portion of the center depending on the size of their gifts.

A donation of $500,000 will let the donor name the entire center, a gift of $100 will put a name on a brick in the sidewalk, and contributions in between will let the giver name rooms, playgrounds, a fireplace or porch at the new center.

Phase I of the project will include an 8,000-square-foot building with another 10,000 square feet of outdoor space.

The center will have 19 bedrooms with community hallway baths, a double kitchen with food available for preparing meals, a dining area, children’s indoor and outdoor play areas, a common area for day visitors, a laundry room, a two-bedroom apartment for the facility manager and a bedroom for a social work intern/assistant.

Phase II of the project will add an activities room and covered pavilion.

Board of directors for the Central Texas Hospitality House are Bill Lewis, chairman; Lenora Sappington, treasurer; Mary Alice Wise, secretary; Allen Place, Carole Ross, Doris Schraeder, Lela Collins, DyVonne Nelson, Williams F. Floyd and Kay McCleary.

Wise said the group hopes to break ground on the new center by next summer. Anyone seeking information about the project can call Wise at (254) 223-2828.

Contact Tim Orwig at torwig@kdhnews.com

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