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Tribe buys former Springfield Academy as rehab center

SPRINGFIELD — The treasurer of the Santee Sioux Nation of Nebraska said the American Indian tribe is considering using the former Springfield Academy building as a rehabilitation center.

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The tribe purchased the building Aug. 26 for $70,000 in an online auction from Delaware-based corporation MFG223. Tribal Treasurer Frank Whipple said the tribe did not buy it with any specific plans, but tribal Chairman Roger Trudell has expressed interest in transforming the building to house people who need help dealing with drug and alcohol problems.

“Our chairman thinks it’s something we need for the future of our kids,” Whipple said. “In today’s world, there seems to be so much drug abuse and that type of stuff.”

The former Springfield Academy building, which Whipple estimated totals a bit more than 5,000 square feet not counting its gymnasium, sits on nine acres of land in the south part of Springfield. In January 2011, Youth Services International, the parent company of Springfield Academy, announced it would close the doors of what was previously a residential treatment center and was licensed by the state to provide residential treatment, care and education. It was certified to provide mental health services, including individual, group and social rehabilitation.

Whipple estimated there are 50 to 60 dorm rooms at the facility, with common kitchens and common bathrooms. Whipple added the facility would need updates in several areas, including the heating system that is 60 to 70 years old.

“We have some big cost needs for that facility,” Whipple said. “That stuff doesn’t happen overnight. It costs more than a couple nickels, unfortunately.”