Community members in Fairchild are voicing concerns after Eau Claire County announced it’s considering relocating violent sexual offenders on county land located in the village.
In October, an Eau Claire County judge signed an order for supervised release for sex offender Jeffrey Bonnin.
Because of a change in state law counties must identify a residential option for offenders granted supervised release. That prompted the current search for an appropriate location.
However community member Rochelle Hoffman says she was blindsided by the news sex offenders could be relocated to the area.
“There are horrible drug problems and crime problems currently in Fairchild, to compile this and add more isn’t going to help our community,” said Hoffman.
The county owned property up for consideration is located just off of U.S. 12 on Oak Lane in which is now used by the county highway department to store road maintenance supplies.
“You could not find a least likely place to provide services in the county than Fairchild. We are resource poor and highly stressed community,” said town chairman, Todd Meyer.
Meyer says he believes the location isn’t beneficial for the community and wouldn’t help to rehabilitate offenders since Fairchild lacks resources to do so.
“We have a part time police force,” said Meyer. “We have no grocery store. We have no school. We have no transportation infrastructure. There are a myriad of issues.”
However, a temporary committee tasked with finding a location has to find a one that’s not within 1,500 feet of any schools, child care facilities, places of worship or nursing homes.
“We’re talking about a placement in the community and there’s a potential risk no matter where any of these offenders are placed. I don’t take it lightly nor does the committee,” said assistant cooperation counsel for Eau Claire County Rick Eaton.
Officials have 180 days to find a housing option for a person granted supervised release and Eaton says other options have not worked out at this point but so far no decisions have been made.
“This is a difficult task and I’m sure nobody would want to have that task. We do, and we’re mandated by law to have this committee and identify a placement and we’re going to meet our statutory burden to get it done,” said Eaton.
Right now what the housing might look like is up for debate. The county does say at this point it’s only looking to re-house one sex offender.
However, there is a possibility more could be considered in the future as others come up for supervised release