PARKERSBURG - With the recent arrest of two people on drug charges at the Salvation Army of Parkersburg Corps' Opportunity House on Fifth Street, organization officials want the community to know this issue is rare in the people who seek their help.
"I want people to see past this one incident to the good of what we do," said Lt. Mechelle Henry with the corps. "This was one negative incident out of countless positive things that have happened and will continue to happen."
Henry said all six adult residents currently in the Opportunity House facility are working full time and three of them are attending college classes with plans to earn a degree. Nine children also live there attending Wood County Schools.
"All of these people are wonderful people with pasts that many are not proud of," Henry said. "They are doing everything they can to make their lives different."
Henry said she is afraid the problems and negative thoughts directed at one person for one incident will reflect poorly on others who receive aid from the Salvation Army and reside in the temporary housing.
"I hate that it happened and I don't like how it reflects on the people indirectly affected," she said. "Not everybody there is a bad person and I don't like that people will think that after this."
Henry said the apartments allow people, of which all of those in the individual residences are single parent families, a sense of having their own home and space. The apartments are available short term for up to 12 months for people in need who qualify for the space through the Salvation Army, Henry said.
"It often gives them a sense of pride at having a place to call home and to go to with some privacy," she said. "Others can see it as stressful to have this space to take care of and may turn to bad habits; we just don't know what happened."
Parkersburg Police Department Sgt. Greg Collins said the investigation and arrests were a first in his knowledge for the residential apartments.
He added that he has no knowledge of issues with the Opportunity House for at least a decade.
On Monday, Travis Scott McCall, 37, and his girlfriend Juanita Marie Haught, 23, P.O. Box 2444, Parkersburg, were arrested on felony charges of operating or attempting to operate a clandestine drug laboratory. McCall had been living in facilities made available through the Salvation Army for four months, including the Opportunity House, 534 Fifth St., for two months with his son Travis Scott McCall Jr., 19.
"For me, I am upset that the dad thought the drugs were the right answer and that his son lost out on the opportunities available while living here as well as a home," Henry said.
McCall and Haught remain in the North Central Regional Jail on $75,000 bond each.
The Salvation Army requires those living in the shelter and Opportunity House, for which there is a waiting list, to submit to drug tests. McCall had tested clean and drug-free for the two months he was in the shelter waiting to be placed into apartment 2 as well as the two months since he had transitioned into the home.
"Stress may have gotten to him and he turned to something he thought might help," Henry said. "He had to have planned it by sending his son away, bringing in his girlfriend and doing it at a time when we would not have a group meeting or check the apartments for a few days.
"After two months he knew how things worked and he thought he could get away with it and it is upsetting to me for several reasons," she said.
While McCall Sr. remains in the regional jail, Henry said she does not know what happened to his son.
"Although he is 19, to me he is still a child and I feel terrible about what has happened," Henry said. "We here are praying that he can find his way and get help if and when he needs it."
The Opportunity House is currently closed to people until next week when it will be inspected by an environmental testing company for hazardous materials following the incident, Henry said. There are plans to clean the building and reopen it to those in need.