Berea school employees find closure after arson arrest

By: Brittany Pelletz Email
By: Brittany Pelletz Email

BEREA, Ky. (WKYT) - There is now a healing garden on the property that used to be the New Opportunity School for Women building in Berea.

Last December, someone intentionally set fire to the building and destroyed it.

"Shocking,devastating, I mean to talk about it even today, I can still feel my heart race," says Lori Sliwa, Executive Director of the New Opportunity School for Women.

But, nearly a year later, Kentucky State Police have made an arrest in this arrest. For those who work at the school, the arrest allows them to find closure.

Kentucky State Police have charged 30-year-old, Gary Davidson with third-degree burglary and second-degree arson in connection to this case.

The program is designed to help women in Appalachia improve their financial, personal, and educational circumstances.

If Sliwa could talk to Davidson about the arson she'd want him to know he didn't stop the school from its mission, "I will simply say you did not stop us. If anything we're stronger for it. More people know about us."

Karla Nunn, graduated from the program in June and says it's changed her life.

There are no plans to rebuild on the old location, instead the school's permanent home will be inside of the First Christian Church in Berea.

The New Opportunity School was founded nearly 25 years ago. It has helped nearly 700 women.

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