By Stacey Tucker
CARO — An iconic building in downtown Caro is getting a facelift, thanks to its new owners, Tuscola Behavioral Health Systems (TBHS).
The former Big Brothers Big Sisters building, located at 129 E. Burnside St., in Caro has been taken down to its shell and will be getting a whole new look inside and out.
“We’ve taken it down to basically the four exterior walls and started over,” said Chief Executive Officer Sharon Beals.
After sitting empty for a short time, the 3,000 square foot building was purchased by TBHS in September and work began early this year. As one of nine sites owned by the mental health provider, the Burnside Street building will be used as a training facility.
“Our current training center is being utilized pretty much every day,” said Susan Rickwalt-Holder, director of Marketing and Training Services for TBHS. “This will be utilized pretty much every day and potentially at night as well.”
From CPR training to bringing in a speaker regarding autism, Rickwalt-Holder said the building will hold a variety of training services.
“We also run some consumer training and potentially some community training,” Beals added. “We can use it for mental health first aid or any community education.
“It gives us a larger space than we currently have.”
TBHS is currently using the former Secretary of State building located on Millwood Street in Caro for training. The new building will be able to accommodate a larger amount of staff to be trained at one time.
The purchase and renovation of the new building marks 40 years for TBHS in Caro which was first established in 1973.
“My understanding is when they started (the business) it was in a house that doesn’t exist anymore by the Sheriff’s Department,” Beals said. “When I started everything was located up on the Caro Center grounds.
“We were in two buildings at that point.”
TBHS now employs 156 individuals as well train an extra 150-200 people within their provider network for residential homes. The business now owns nine sites, with four residential houses throughout the county, the Personal Independence Center (PIC) building in Caro, Tuscola Peers Center in Caro, Cass Valley Enterprises in Vassar and the new Burnside Street training center.
“The need for our services is there,” said Rickwalt-Holder. “We have a lot of training requirements for our staff.
“Our staff has to maintain their credentials and we do all the training for our direct care staff.”
The building will hold a training room, one additional meeting room as well as a kitchen. It is being renovated by local contractor Dennis LaPratt of LaPratt Builders LLC, plumbing by Newton-Johnson and electrical work by Ken Martin Electric Inc. in Cass City.
Renovations are slated for completion in May.
Stacey Tucker is a staff writer for the Tuscola County Advertiser. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.