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Memorial to slain Paris boy on the brink of being stalled

PARIS — The garage where police found 6-year-old Wesley Mullins' body in August 2007 has been destroyed, and a plan was hatched last summer to turn a site with bad memories into a memorial that might help prevent such tragedies.

The project, which began last June, was scheduled to be completed this December. But construction for Wesley's Place didn't start until October, three months behind schedule.

Mark Williams, the project manager, said it took the group several months to acquire a building permit and get approval for a zoning change.

The framing of the building has been erected and the roof was half completed Wednesday. A wreath hung on a post near what is projected to be the entrance.

Wesley's Place is expected to open in April, but Williams says construction might be able to continue for only another month or so without additional funds.

"We're desperately low right now on money," Williams said. "We go from month to month hoping we'll get some more donations."

The structure is expected to cost $325,000; the group's goal is to raise $200,000. The hope is to cut costs using volunteer labor and donated materials.

People in the community wanted to replace the memories of Wesley's death.

Investigators found Wesley's body in a white garage at the end of the driveway at 1406 South Main Street, the home of Wesley's grandfather, Bobby Mullins. Court documents say Wesley was repeatedly struck in the head with a blunt object.

Lewis "Buck" Ballard, 50, who is charged with first-degree sodomy and Wesley's murder, was Bobby Mullins' roommate.

An anonymous donor gave the money to purchase the home of Wesley's grandfather and neighboring houses to make room for the project.

The single-story structure is 3,000 square feet and built to serve two organizations, Williams said. It will include six offices, two reception rooms/libraries, a conference room and kitchen.

It will be dedicated to Wesley's memory — pictures of Wesley will be displayed inside, and his former classmates from Strode Station Elementary School in Winchester have drawn pictures for a quilt that will hang inside.

There might also be a memorial garden in the rear of the building or a sculpture facing Main Street, Williams said.

Project leaders haven't decided who will use the structure. The board for Wesley's Place, which includes Williams, Paris police Chief Tim Gray and Wesley's aunt, Pamela Jacques, plans to select two non-profit organizations for the building in February.

Jacques said she hopes the groups in the building will work to educate and prevent child abuse.

"The family is very thankful and grateful to the community," Jacques said. "At least something good can come out of this terrible thing that's happened to us."

"Something needed to be done," said Larry Pugh, who owns nearby Larry's Car Wash. "Something in a positive way."