Last night’s Shady Rest Committee public hearing was emotionally charged with various members of the community coming out to show support, ask questions and express concerns over Ted Hayden and Gregg Erickson’s proposal to utilize the county building for an addiction recovery facility.
Those speaking in favor of the “David’s Courage” program taking occupancy of the Shady Rest Home included County Health officials, recovered addicts and family members personally impacted by addiction, as well as people who wanted to see the historic structure utilized to help the community.
The first individual to speak onto the record was a mother who lost her son to drug abuse. She said her belief was that individuals should be able to find recovery in the same town they find drugs in. She proposed that having a place closer to home could provide more community support to those battling the disease.
Other members of the audience added to the topic, saying that right now people looking to get clean usually have a long waiting period and get sent to facilities in other counties, making access more difficult.
Even those who voiced concerns seemed to agree that this type of facility is necessary to battle the drug epidemic in Marshall County but they just had a problem with the location. Some mentioned that this type of facility could drive down property values but safety was the biggest concern.
A few different residents stated that if the facility were utilized for drug rehabilitation, they would consider selling their homes and moving. One man who lives “three doors down,” said he passed around a petition and received more than 60 signatures from neighbors who didn’t want the Lincoln Highway structure to be utilized for the proposed recovery program.
Another mother bravely shared her story about her young son being abducted and brutally attacked by a man under the influence of drugs and alcohol. She said her son was traumatized by the incident and shared her worries about this type of organization being so close to her residence,
“So my fear is, they come they want to, maybe they physically can’t or they relapse, I’m right across the street, I’ll be terrified.”
Many neighboring residents reported having issues with the Bowen Center patients wandering off, walking through their yards and approaching their homes. One individual added that multiple car break-ins and an auto theft were committed by one particular escapee.
A Bowen Center representative mentioned that while the organization utilized the building, it was not a locked-door facility. Some members were permitted to walk around the premises and trusted not to wander off, while others were supposed to be looked after by staff. However, no official security system was confirmed.
At the start of the hearing, Hayden had stated that a $35,000 security system would be installed in the new facility, equipped with locking doors and windows. Later in the meeting, it was added that there would also be guards who would monitor the doors and patients.
As an extra precaution, Community Corrections Director Ward Byers said that those recommended through Community Corrections would be electronically monitored through GPS. He added that they would probably only make up 4 to 6 of the individuals getting treatment, while others would be those who are personally seeking treatment.
A few different residents addressed the fact that untreated addicts already live in the community. One recovered individual who reported being 12 years clean and said that the type of people actively trying to fight addiction are not motivated to commit crimes or harm others, they’re motivated to get better for themselves and for their families. She said denying people a place to get well does nothing to fight the obvious issue.
She said, “If you refuse to allow addicts a place to have recovery in this town, you’re just contributing to the problem.”
At the conclusion of the hearing, Kurt Garner thanked everyone for remaining respectful and giving everyone a chance to have their voice heard. The committee will take all the comments under advisement and make a recommendation to the County Commissioners, who will ultimately decide how the building will be utilized.
The Shady Rest Advisory Committee will continue taking letters from the public over the next few weeks. They can be sent to 112 W. Jefferson Street in Plymouth. An exact date has not been set, but Garner said another committee meeting will be held in late January or early February.