Residents Fighting Back Against Possible Homeless Shelter

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LEWISBURG – There wasn’t an empty chair in the room at a commissioners meeting in Union County.  Residents are worried about what they believe is moving into Hartley Township.

"We’re going to have pedophiles and other serious felony charges that people who are running through our town and there’s nothing we can do to stop it," said organizer of Concerned Citizens for Union County Pamela Hackenburg.

Just for Jesus Challenge Homeless Outreach’s leader Jack Wisor listed online that his organization is planning to open a facility in the old Laurelton Center.

Pamela Hackenburg organized the Concerned Citizens for Union County group, researching just what other communities think about this non-profit that has a facility in Western Pennsylvania.

"It’s not good. It is not good, they all tell us it is not something you want in your community,” said Hackenburg.

Anne Horton is in charge of a religious camp that is near where this shelter may move in.  She’s anxious to learn more.

"It concerned me as to potentially what it could, it might do in relationship to our camps," said Wesley Forest Camp Executive Director Anne Horton.

The commissioners told dozens of concerned residents that they too don’t want this type of center to move in to Union County, but they don’t know just yet what can be done to stop it.

Hartley Township supervisors told Newswatch 16 a facility of this size could cripple them.

"Now we’re talking about bringing thousands in that are homeless to the community.  And it’s definitely going to have an impact on our little community," said Hartley Township supervisor Stephen Buttorff.

Supervisors say they have hired a land use attorney, while 600 Union County residents have signed a petition to keep the facility out.

"It’s something that we fear for our children, they’re not going to have a childhood this summer, they’re not going to be able to just go out in the yard and play, and go play in the creek. It’s a small town,” said Hackenburg.

Newswatch 16 reached out to the organization planning the homeless shelter, but its leader has yet to return our calls.


  • Kathryn Gray

    I am truly ashamed to live in the same vicinity as these people who are afraid of a homeless shelter. Where is the compassion? Help your fellow brother and sister. Sick and twisted people!!!!

    • Nicole

      I was thinking the same thing… I think it’s very low of them all! Hopefully none of them ever go through hard times!

    • John in FL

      lol, even when Jesus preached in the synagogues, He had to scorn the religious, difference between Christians and religious, religious have a form of godliness and Christians have a relationship with the Creator and God of the universe. Hopefully the religious will open the ears and heart and the preachers will have the courage to speak the truth instead of trying to please the crowd. Jesus said even as you have done unto the least you have done also to me. Those who would turn their back blindly on this will answer for it one day. Yes, there should be accountability to make sure what they fear does not happen, but….

  • Kathy

    Every one of those ‘people’ who are against helping the homeless should be homeless themselves sometime and see what it’s like to be out in the cold with nothing! You people are a disgrace to the human species!

  • Todd Reeder

    Ignorant people. The only fact is that the man plans to open a homeless facility. There is no proof he intends to use it for ex prisoners. I could not find any proof of it. The daily item newspaper says people believe that is his intentions. But no one has proven that is his intentions. That woman and wnep are spreading unproven stories. wnep says what his plans are. And there is no proof it is his plan. They have not proven that is his intentions. If you want to criticize the man prove what you are saying.

    • Todd Reeder

      All I found against him is a claim that he operates shelters in dilapidated buildings that are not maintained. And it is a claim.

  • Donna Werts

    It makes me sad that people call themselves human talking like this. The concerns are understandable but act Christlike for Pete’s sake! Always ask, what would Jesus do???? ;)

  • Jill Nobles

    Im confused. Where did it say it was a home for homeless pedophiles and felons? When I got out of the military I had to sleep in my car for months. I would have greatly appreciated a place to go rather than being a 24 year old homeless veteran woman sleeping in her car. Just because someone is homeless doesn’t mean they are a criminal or drug addict.

  • Sandra Rutherford

    I see a lot of hatred in these comments. These are people we are talking about. Not all homeless people would choose to live on the streets. All of you that have nice big homes and were able to be nice and warm on the nights it was below zero temperatures, shame on you! This is not what we as humans are supposed to be.

    • Sundown

      So open up YOUR home to them. I have. It never bode well for me, but at least I tried, and they were drug addicts and both my brothers did the same for those who were hurting one way or another, family members and friends, no not my family…They just have to be diligent in keeping the town safe. Christian morals come first for one’s own family, Christians know that. And if I my desire to protect the women and children in my home or community over homeless adults makes me a bad Christian that is only the opinion of people on here who say that and I don’t really care what you think and maybe they like you, they should take a few of these homeless people in. If this would be a “family shelter,” there is less likelihood of major problems, but many of the women in such a situation have drug and alcohol issue as well. Truth is, many of the critics here have NO clue what’s at stake, and what’s at hand. The best thing is to look up the website of this organization, and find out what they do. I did.

    • Sundown

      There’s a difference in getting them our of the cold for the night(s) and days that is cold, and having a thousand of them as residents in the community for any length of time, what’s worse is mixing criminals and druggies with women and children seeking safety! The have to decide what kind of facility they’re running!

  • Stacey Jones

    really people there are pedophiles and drugs no matter where you go rather wyou have a homeless shelter or not you will always have this issue so if you are not afraid of this issue now maybe you better pull your head out of the hole in the ground and start looking around where you live I bet that you have this issue going on right now and just want to deny it

  • becca

    Just because you know the area doesn’t mean anything. These are individuals with serious offenses who need supervision and laurelton/west end can’t provide that. This is a town that doesn’t want to expand and very known for this type of growth. Yea helping homeless id a great thing and a lot of people in that area have been in that position so they understand but trying to throw Christian moral in is just redundant to the issue. These are individuals who went to prison and being led by a man who only wants a paycheck. He has no intention of investing the money to make it suitable and protected from the community. Opening up the suits without proper protocol is an issue. Think about it the people of the west end have sustained themselves for decades shouldn’t it be up to them to decide if they this demoralizing and emotional transition. .

  • John in FL

    I understand the concerns, but that said, where do you suggest doing it. If anything this should be looked at as a possible industry as there are NO jobs to speak of within a 50 mile area. The site being considered was a State run mental facility with really no hopes of becoming anything else, everytime somebody comes up with a plan the residents get all up in arms to stop it, including the golf course and country club. They didn’t want those type of people there either. Seems not they are against pedophiles they are against ALL outsiders invading their space. Grow up and look at this as another chance for reviving your community. Yes there are many things that would need to get straight prior to it opening and during it’s operation. Remember many of you say you are Christian, unfortunately I will quote Ghandi concerning this, “I like your Christ it is the Christians I have issue with” Not so Christ like…. As always it is the not in my back yard, why not do it right and show America what WE SHOULD BE DOING. Do it right though, paid counselors, paid security, training for the work force and incentives for companies to move to the area to utilize the available work force of both the unemployed residents and the citizens of the center. Set time limits for ‘getting back on their feet’ Jesus said teach a man to fish, that doesn’t mean unlimited freebies, but heck we have millions abusing the unemployment and welfare systems already that will be pissed at my ideas, to long living of the backs of others makes one comfortable and afraid of self responsibility and change. For those who say you don’t know this area, sorry but I do, used to deliver to the State center before it was forced to close because it was wrong to house ‘those’ people like animals. Grow up and do the right thing, help those who need it. You actually have a chance to change peoples lives for the good.
    I would much rather see a training center where they could be taught how to get back on their feet and succeed than to see them wandering aimlessly on the streets of every city with no hope. Visit any large city you’ll see it in every town, at least they are trying to make a difference.

    • becca

      No jobs within 50 miles. Your crazy and apparently don’t know it well enough. There’s jobs within 30 miles and the town likes it this way. Some work in town and other at ritz craft in mifflinburg. There’s camps in the area too . If you have a son or daughter send um there over the summer guilt free if u can knowing this place is near by.

      • John in FL

        very few jobs are left, PA house? any production jobs that are there are very few you say Ritz Craft, yet I know more people laid off from there than actually still work there. Not saying there won’t be issues to deal with but like I said, if only you would have read, make sure theses are addressed and people employed to take care of those issues. Male sure those coming to the facility are aware this facility will make sure punishments are not a slap on the wrist for offenders. As for other jobs in the area? working at a convenience store does not pay the bills, 10 jobs at the nursing home, ok but not high paying, a couple bars..seasonal ice cream shops for the kids to work.Many of the so called jobs you say about are operating at a mere existence of what they were 15-20 years ago. Wood Mode has a skeleton crew, Beavertown Shoe gone, list could go on. This would be a chance to revitalize the area if DONE RIGHT. Yes, there are issues that would need to be addressed, but address them. As for the supposed problems there is way less in the area for problems to occur in the area as there is nothing with in miles of there. If you have lemons then make lemonade.

    • Laura

      This facility isn’t going to create any jobs. It is supposed to be a “self sustaining” facility, run by “volunteers”. Any research done on the proprietor and how it has affected the community where is current shelter is located will tell you that it is not something you want brought anywhere near where you live.

      • John in FL

        finally you get it! My point was do it right, make it an industry make it accountable and not just so one man makes a profit with no one to answer to when things go bad, IF they do

  • Joy Redstone

    Left Lewisburg decades ago…… Conservative, hypocritical, self involved, materialistic people were among some of the reasons. (There are some of you I still like, obviously) but I couldn’t wait to get out and have spent most of my adult life working with homeless people. I know that there are many “Christians” in Lewisburg. I used quote marks because in my view a person that talks about Christianity as their faith and then hates homeless people entirely misses the point. Wish some of these haters would actually read the Bible and reflect about what Jesus says about the “least of these.”

  • Lewisburg Citizen

    Go to the Megan’s Law website… There are already Megan’s Law Offenders, Pedophiles, Rapists, etc., living and working among you. Yes, this will bring more of them into the area, and I don’t like that any more than you do, but can’t the local government require certain ‘safety’ practices be in place? I don’t think you can keep it out. I don’t like it, but I don’t think you can stop it, I think it’s probably a better idea to start looking at what you CAN legally do to keep the community safe when it does open.

  • Looking out for my babies

    From my understanding according to the site, everything is volunteer. The only “paid” position is the guy who is bringing it here. The residents have to get permission and an escort if they want to leave the property. Please tell me what felon or pedophile is going to ask permission to leave???

  • Don't Eat The Yellow Snow

    And you people call yourselves Christian? If you are fighting against providing shelter for the homeless, you are an absolutely disgraceful human being. You think all of the homeless are pedophiles and felons? You are going to burn in the fires of Hell. I pray that none of you, or your loved ones, ever find yourselves in a situation where you lose your job, and your home. You are disgusting people.

    • Looking out for my babies

      Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow, if this was JUST for the homeless, I think the community would be more open to the idea. But the fact that there are pedophiles and felons who can come and go at their own will is what concerns everyone. I am all about giving people second chances but they need to get proper help before hand and I doubt they will get it there. This “program” (I’m not sure what to call it) is bringing 1,000 people to a place where there are only approx. 3,000 natives with no additional jobs for the community, no financial help, nothing for the community. The “program” is taking the welfare checks from these people as the only form of payment for staying there. This means that our tax money is going toward this place. If there is a police call or an ambulance call to this place, again, our tax money. Before you go judging the Christians on how Christian like they are, and before you start sending us all to hell for looking out for our families, community, and well being, maybe you should think about how this is going to devastate this area. Residents of Laurelton and the surrounding towns like the West End because it is calm and peaceful, are we going to have to worry about what lurks in behind the bushes now?

      • Don't Eat The Yellow Snow

        Oh. I understand the perspective a little better now. I’ll be honest, I don’t know the details of this story, but on the surface, it makes the town look really bad. I will try to get a better look into the situation.

      • Sundown

        1,000 people? wow will they have a staff of AT least 100, 1 per 10 people, and that’s not enough! Security will most certainly be a concern!

      • Sundown

        They do house Megan’s Law offenders. There are guidelines and controls in pace for this according to the site. There is a menu list on the right of the site. Just googlitt. “Just for Jesus Challenge Homeless Outreach.”

        Who is responsible for the homeless and who is responsible for caring for them?

        The abuse of power by police, judges and agencies.

        Discrimination against minority groups of people including Megan Law and Sexual Offenders, Drug Addicts, Alcoholics, etc.

        Sounds to me like there is discrimination towards those who are simply looking out for their family and community! So the policing of drug addicts and pedophiles is now considered; “an abuse of power?” oh my! These people need help, that is for certain, but not at the expense of the safety of law abiding citizens and their children!

        VERY strict guidelines must be in play for this to work. Licensed and trained counselors, and MUCH security. Even then, how close is this to residents? Schools? Playgrounds? Drug addicts rob and steal and they often ditch and run from rehab, what kind of restraint will they have if they are going to take in those who are not yet thru withdrawal?

      • Sundown

        OK, let’s try this on again! In the city where I come from, the homeless are largely comprised of drug addicts, pedophiles, and an assortment of the mentally ill. That being said, with 1,000 residents in mind, will this be the general populace of the residents? Can you blame the community for their concerns? And are you going to mix this bunch of individuals with mothers and children fleeing from abusive environments? What kind of security will be in place? What reassurance do you offer for the safety of children you might be sheltering as well as the women, children, and elderly of the community in which you operate? In the city where I come from the homeless have pushed people in front of subway trains, stuck a sword thru a woman when she was out walking her dog, and smashed a tourist in the head from behind with a brick. Enough said. And these are only the ones that made headlines in the past. Anyone who reads the news can read what is going on with those addicted to drugs, how they rob and steal! We know that pedophiles only go away for good when a child is finally killed. If you’re gonna house 1000 of these individuals, you need to keep them away from the general population! Period. Small towns are not equipped with the law enforcement to monitor 1000 indigents who will then make up 25% of the town’s population now? In the city there are much more cops at hand to deal with incidents such as these.
        In NYC, there are approx. 60,000 homeless, that’s a lot, but only 13% of the entire population. And that’s spread thru-out 5 boros and these boros are not on top of one another 3 of them are separated by bodies of water, not all clustered in one spot!

      • Sundown

        wow my math stinks so bad! in nyc it’s less than 1% of the population! I figured that out the first time, it came out .075, I thought I made a mistake. If it WERE at least 1% it would be 80,000…duh me,

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