Sheriffs Boys Ranch to close
The Alabama Sheriffs Boys Ranch at Neel will close its doors Nov. 15 after serving as a home for abandoned or neglected boys for more than 30 years.
Director Jerry Neal, who has been on the job since July 2009, said he was notified Oct. 14 of the closure by Alabama Sheriffs Boys Ranch Director Nick Rauccio.
“It caught me by surprise even though we have struggled financial during tough economic times. It was all about the economy,” he said.
“We were working hard to gain back the support of the community. A lot of churches, civic organizations and businesses were working with us and we felt we had turned the corner.”
The ranch provides homes for nine boys ranging in age from eight to 18 and employs nine full-time workers including the director. While its corporate office paid salaries and benefits and provided food and some utilities, the ranch relied on donations and fundraisers to provide allowances for the children and meet other local expenses.
Neal said the nine boys at the ranch and house parents will be able to transfer to Boys Ranches in St. Clair and Baldwin counties.
“Two of our boys are seniors at Danville High School and we’re trying to make arrangements that will enable them to stay here until they graduate,” Neal said.
Neal said he and his wife Karen, who is also employed at the ranch, are looking for jobs. Their daughter Haley, 15, is a sophomore at Hartselle High School, where she is a member of the varsity cheerleading squad.