Local News

Fence installed at Baraboo mental health facility

Police, neighbors are concerned about safety

BARABOO, Wis. - A fence is being installed at a mental health facility in Baraboo that houses a man with mental disabilities and a violent past. Both neighbors and officers are raising concerns.

"This fence is not a secure fence that is designed to keep a violent person contained," Lt. Rob Sinden with Baraboo police said.

Jeremy Felix, 26, is the mentally disabled client staying at the home. In 2010, Felix was convicted of attempting to strangle and suffocate a care worker at a Wisconsin Rapids facility, and police said his violence has continued against workers in Baraboo.

Baraboo police said the fence is about 6 feet tall and is still under construction.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration started an investigation because of reports that Felix has injured at least 10 employees.

Sinden said two more reports of injuries have come to his attention in the past couple of weeks.

"We haven't responded to any actual injuries at the house because we don't get those reported. The individuals inside the house, if there is a skirmish or an injury, they don't have any legal duty to notify police, and so they don't," Sinden said.

The facility, 616 Sauk Ave. in Baraboo, is owned and operated by mental health care provider Dungarvin Wisconsin LLC. Felix has lived there since February.

The unfinished fence lining the yard is not bringing any peace of mind to neighbors.

A couple of streets down, Dusti Siegler keeps a close eye on her 5-year-old son. She and her mother, Carrol Perkins, won't let the kids wander anymore.

"My son can't go out and play or anything, and I think it's a bad situation with him being around with so many children in the community. I think he should be somewhere else," Siegler said.

Melissa Angle said she's used to seeing kids play in the streets during the summer, but once families realized Felix moved in, things have been a lot quieter around her block. Angle doesn't let her 2-year-old and 7-year-old out of her sight.

"I feel like this man has more rights than we have rights to safety, than our children have rights to safety," Angle said.

Dungarvin subcontracts with Care Wisconsin, a mental health care company that contracts directly with the state.

A contract indicates Dungarvin receives about $1,750 a day for Felix's care, and there is one other person staying in the Baraboo home. A lawsuit filed against a former manager of the facility indicates Dungarvin stood to lose $3,500 a day at the facility.

The Department of Health Services told News 3 that inpatient mental health facilities are designed for short-term treatment, and people with disabilities have the right to live in a community.

Sinden said the Sauk County District Attorney is still looking into possible assault charges, and OSHA is still investigating any worker-safety violations.

Watch this story on the Channel3000 video page,


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