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February 15, 2013

Decision coming soon on Jacob’s Well

Legal battle over ‘house of hope’ continues for nonprofit, Utica residents

UTICA — The battle between some Utica township homeowners and the nonprofit organization Jacob’s Well Inc. will get an answer soon on whether or not a lawsuit filed will go to trial.

A hearing for summary judgment was held in Clark Circuit Court No. 4 earlier this week regarding the potential use of the 25,000-square-foot former Utica school building and its 3.5 acres. 

The former school house was transferred from Greater Clark County Schools to Utica Township more than a decade ago. An agreement was signed in 2011 to lease the building to Jacob’s Well, which has been performing renovations on the former school building since.

 

JACOB’S WELL PLANS

A letter submitted to the News and Tribune by Kevin and Barbara Williar, co-founders of Jacob’s Well, outlined the goals and purpose of the nonprofit organization establishing the site in Utica.

“We refer to our program as the House of Hope,” the Williars wrote in their letter. “It will be a place where single mothers and their children who have been living in desperate situations can begin to rebuild their lives. They will get a second chance to learn, develop confidence and gain the training they need to move ahead in life. Our program is Christ-centered with a strong philosophy of restoration.”

But local residents have said that the programs goals continue to change.

“We were told [originally] ... that it was going to be a classroom setting,” said Scott Sandefur, who lives next door to the former Utica school building. “Jacob’s Well was going to use this as a training center. In the interim it’s snowballed into ... we’re going to have 50 people living up here.”

The original housing plan was to locate the women who would be assisted by Jacob’s Well at a site in New Albany. The Utica building was designated to be used as a training center. However, the housing deal in New Albany fell through and the plan was amended to include housing at the Utica location.

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