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Old JRF gets new director, new moniker

A state juvenile mental health facility in Brookhaven is nowoperating under new temporary management and a new title.

Marc Lewis was named last Friday as the interim director ofBrookhaven’s former Juvenile Rehabilitation Facility, which is nowknown as the Mississippi Adolescent Center. Lewis – the director ofthe Jaquith Nursing Home at Mississippi State Hospital and 13-yearveteran of the Mississippi Department of Mental Health – took overfor former MAC Director Regina Terry Hebert, who retiredFriday.

“I think we’re moving in a great direction with the adolescentcenter,” Lewis said. “We’re excited to be a part of the community;this is our 10-year anniversary in Brookhaven. We just look forwardto continuing the programs and services we provide to adolescentsin Mississippi who have intellectual and developmentaldisabilities.”

Lewis said he would serve in his new position until a permanentdirector is named. MDMH Spokeswoman Wendy Bailey said thedepartment has begun seeking applicants for the job, but she couldprovide no timetable as to when the search was expected to end.

“The department will consider interested applicants for theposition and then a recommendation will be made to the stateboard,” she said.

In the meantime, Lewis said MAC would continue its involvementin the community, including holiday fireworks displays andsponsorship of the annual Relay for Life.

“We’re looking forward to it,” he said Thursday. “We weretalking about it this morning.”

Hebert did not immediately return phone messages seekingcomment. Bailey said Hebert’s retirement was a personnel matter andwould not comment.

Bailey did provide a copy of Hebert’s retirement letter,addressed to MDMH Executive Director Ed LeGrand and Geroge Harrisonof the state board of mental health.

“Please know I wish you, the Board and all the DMH employeesnothing but the best as you work so hard fighting for theMississippians we serve,” Hebert’s letter said. “You have made somany accomplishments during your time as the leader and I know youwill continue that work.”

Hebert’s letter also requested that her retirement date beeffective June 30. Lewis, however, took over the facility on May29.

The facility’s new name, meanwhile, comes from a pair of lawspassed in the Mississippi House of Representatives.

Last year, District 92 Rep. Becky Currie’s House Bill 1347 wassigned into law, allowing the former JRF to change its name. Currieworked with JRF officials to provide the facility a name morereflective of its mission.

The facility was often mistaken as a detention facility fortroubled youth, when in actuality it served mentally challengedadolescents.

This year, a MDMH funding bill authored by House AppropriationsCommittee Chairman Johnny Stringer officially renamed thefacility.