To the residents of Oak Level, the county of Halifax, the board of supervisors and whatever councils or boards that deem themselves responsible for the mess that is happening to the citizens in Oak Level, please put a stop to the Southstone Behavioral Healthcare Center (SBHC) that was formerly known as Carlbrook.

It has been only a couple of weeks since the ribbon cutting at SBHC, and already two situations have occurred. From a friendly source I heard that two youths had escaped the grounds on this past Monday night. That would be April 9. They were missing for approximately one hour (reportedly) and were found in the local woods. 

The SBHC said the boys never left the property, but local law enforcement said they could not verify that. 

Next, from the same friendly source, on Thursday night, April 12, at approximately 7:30 p.m., again two youths escaped their supervisors but with a possible third youth. I cannot confirm the third person at this time. 

I know that sheriff’s deputies were sent, and the Oak Level Fire Department also was called along with a rescue vehicle. This time there were several injuries. 

I do know that on Friday morning there was a deputy’s car at the Carlbrook Road and Highway 360 and another on the next intersection up on the way to Danville. Was there still a missing patient from SBHC? Who knows as they won’t tell us.

 On Friday afternoon, April 14, I decided to call the SBHC at 3 p.m. A lady answered the phone who was polite, and I told her my name, and I was a neighbor and would she please tell me what is going on at the school? 

She said she could not say anything about it but would transfer me to someone who might. 

After a brief hold, a Ms. Ashley Shelton picked up. I again told her who I was and asked for some information. 

Her reply, “No sir.” Then there was absolute silence. So I again asked and told her we bordered their property by a half of a mile and were concerned for our safety. 

She said, “We don’t have to tell you anything because of the HIPPA Act — The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 — and that was the end of it. 

What ever happened to all the good will and working with the community and all the promises they made to everyone when they were vying for entrance to our peaceful Oak Level community? 

The SBHC is not a non-profit organization. It is a for-profit company, and as we all know, so many large organizations will do and say anything to get their foot in the door, and then it’s all out the window. 

They let us all believe that so many of their patients would be from Halifax. Maybe some of their day students are local, but the residents are not. They bring these troubled kids in from other sources, and our community is the one that will be under attack when they escape their boundaries. 

We have single elderly people here as well as families with children and everyone else who reside in a normal setting. Are we supposed to lock all the doors and windows while at home and prepare for challenged youths that might break in? 

I heard the last troublemakers were 14 years old. The SBHC says it takes in youths from 14 years to 17 years and 11 months old. 

I joined the USMC when I was 17 years and 1 month old and proudly went through boot camp. At 17, a 20-foot fence could not stop me if I wanted to get out. 

SBHC has a 12-foot fence, and their patients have problems, and I’m sure a lot of them would not be stopped by that little puppy. 

These people at SBHC have some serious security issues considering the type of cliental they are housing there. We were all told that these resident patients were of a more docile type than of other more violent facilities. 

They are supposed to call for local law enforcement as soon as there is a problem. 

Our tax dollars are paying for a profit company, so they don’t have to hire and pay for their own. 

How about the Oak Level Fire Department? We donate every year to them, and now the SBHC just used my donation as well as many others to fund their problems. 

Enough. They need to reimburse our law enforcement and our fire department. 

A neighbor suggested maybe a siren like used for tornadoes or prison outbreaks could be installed at SBHC. Heck, that won’t work, because they would never use it. Remember, they wouldn’t tell me if anyone was still loose or not. 

A place like SBHC needs to be in an industrial park away from local people. If they changed to a facility for the elderly, then we could live with that. 

So I ask our esteemed county leaders, what happens when another outbreak occurs, and one of these youths gets injured or worse while breaking into someone’s home or car? Such a horrible thought but so possible. 

Now you know what we’ve been trying to tell you since this started. You don’t live here — we do. 

If just one of the board of supervisors members lived here bordering the SBHC property line with your wife and children, I know something would change. 

It seems to me that the time has come for some calls and letters to my congressman, my senator and my governor starting with a copy of this one as well as all the past letters pleading for the right thing to be done here as well as the information needed to research Acadia Healthcare, the parent company of SBHC -- the same information I tried to pass on to the board of supervisors at their vote meeting for SBHC and was ignored. 

I failed miserably. Now look what you have done to us. 

Please friends and neighbors take some time and write and call our elected officials (the ones above the county), before there is a more serious consequence. 

Let’s all hope and pray that someone does something before it gets worse. 

Crone lives in Oak Level.