Investigation shows more than a business next to park

SWEET HOME (KATV) - A day at a park in the Sweet Home Community led to one parent getting concerned about what's next door.

Parents thought a building next door to the community park was a car detail shop, but a Channel Seven investigation turned out it was more than just a business.

Carolyn Voiles frequents the park as a place for her and friends to take their kids, until this past weekend when she noticed a man drinking alcohol.

"He walked over there and walked straight in there and that's when I asked the gentleman 'what do you guys do here?'" she said.

A two story building across from the park is where voiles watched the man go.

A sign outside reads it's a car detail shop, but after going to the building we learned it's actually a rehabilitation center.

"To bring these guys from getting out of being incarcerated, to fill a gap between there and learning to live back out in society," said director of the facility, Jerry Wardlaw, about the eleven men that live in the all-male center.

Wardlaw started Wings of Freedom halfway house in April. He said none of the men that stay there are allowed to drink alcohol, nor are they violent criminals.

"As far as over at the park I've never caught anyone over there, other than to work or clean-up," he added.

During our visit to the community park on Wednesday, we found a trash can full of liquor bottles and empty bottles of vodka lying around the park; a primary reason of major concern for many local parents.

"If they put the driveway going in a different direction maybe, and fence that off to where it's not facing us," Voiles said. "Put a privacy fence up to where it's not available to the view of the children."

We asked why the sign in front labeled it as a detail shop. Wardlaw became emotional when telling us it was to help out a neighbor's local business.

"He put that sign up there long before I even considered to put this halfway house in. Its been there ever since," Wardlaw said as he began fighting back tears.

"He helped me drive the first nail in this place to build it and he helped til' the finishing color of paint."

The Pulaski County Sheriff's Department said it hasn't received any reports of criminal activity at the park.

Wardlaw told us Wednesday that his facility is regulated by the state.