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Gainesville State School breaks ground on new facility, agriculture program

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Staff report, Denton Record-Chronicle

GAINESVILLE — Gainesville State School and Texas Juvenile Justice Department leaders and board members broke ground Wednesday on a new facility and program that will help juvenile offenders learn agricultural skills and access a special type of horse therapy that has been proven to help at-risk youth with rehabilitation.

Tornado Ranch, as the facility adjacent to the school is named, will comprise a complex of small farm buildings on 80 acres of sprawling pastureland partially shaded by large oak trees. It is expected to begin operations in early 2018, according to a news release issued Thursday by the juvenile justice department.

The facility currently houses two donated horses, Marquis and Delano, and two pot-bellied pigs and their new brood of babies. It will be adding more pigs, goats and cattle that the youth will help manage. Donated rescue horses and trained riding horses will share the land and participate in the Equine Assisted Psychotherapy program, a signature feature of Tornado Ranch.

The Gainesville State School, the agency's largest secured facility, provides rehabilitation services to adjudicated youth who are released back into communities across Texas. The school houses about 250 youths who've been committed by Juvenile Court Judges to serve time.