Regional treatment center closer to reality with lease signing

Published 6:26 pm Thursday, October 27, 2022

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A regional addiction treatment center is one step closer to opening its doors after local officials signed the lease for the property on Tuesday.
Carter County Mayor Patty Woodby serves as chairwoman for the Board overseeing the planning and operation of the treatment center. On Tuesday, she signed the lease agreement between the Board and the State of Tennessee to lease the old prison work camp location in Roan Mountain and returned it to Governor Bill Lee’s office for final approval.
“The hope is that instead of incarceration, we can focus on rehabilitation for our residents,” Woodby said. “We
want to help the families in our community that has been ravaged by drug addiction. It is something that
seems to be tearing families apart in our rural communities.”
“Through recovery, these individuals can return to the community, lead productive lives with their families and
become contributing members of our community,” Woodby added.
The work camp was once part of the Tennessee Department of Correction’s Northeast Correctional Complex housing minimum security inmates. The Complex was closed in 2021 as part of cost-saving measures for the TDOC. After the closure of the complex, local officials and judges began working together to find a way to use the property to benefit the region, and the idea of a regional addiction treatment center was born.
The treatment center will work with the drug recovery courts currently active in the region to identify patients for treatment at the facility.
The facility in Roan Mountain, which is now vacant, contains 180 beds and would be largely beneficial to many recovering addicts by not only serving as a rehabilitation center, but also a place where those individuals can work on their education and learn trades and skills to turn their lives around.
“Our plan is to open the facility in March with 45 patients to start out,” Mayor Woodby said.
And while the complex will be in Carter County, Woodby said it would serve the region.
“This is a regional approach that allows nine counties an opportunity to have a facility where we can help rehabilitate individuals with a long-term treatment program lasting from 12 to 18 months,” Woodby said. The effort has been spearheaded by Mayor Woodby, other city and county mayors in the region, and judges within the judicial system. The leadership group visited cities and counties in the region to propose the treatment center and ask for local governments to commit to funding to help get it off the ground.
Carter County was the first to sign on to the project when they allocated their entire portion of the settlement in the Baby Doe lawsuit – $1.8 million – to help start the ball rolling. Other local governments joined in the effort to provide funding for the initial start-up. Families Free was awarded a $1.3 million grant from the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse. This is a reoccurring grant that they will receive each year for operational costs. “I want to thank Governor Lee, members of his administration and our legislators for their support for the regional treatment facility,” Woodby said.

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