Groundbreaking

Vicki Maxwell, Trecia Kimes-Brown, Mark Fout, William Wellman, Shannon Bishop and Eddie Philabaun participated in the groundbreaking ceremony on Monday.

An addiction treatment center will soon begin development in Vinton County.

Community members gathered at the Vinton County Industrial Park in McArthur to witness the breaking of ground of the Phoenix Center. County leaders and Phoenix representatives lined up with golden shovels where the rehabilitation center will stand next year.

Representing Phoenix at the McArthur event were Chief Executive Officer Eddie Philibaun, Chief Communications Officer John Adkins and Chief Programming Officer Shannon Bishop.

The purpose of The Phoenix Center is to serve individuals involved in the criminal justice system who struggle with substance abuse and mental health disorders. The faith-based organization will take a holistic approach to treatment addressing each need that hinders one’s ability to be a successful member of society. The goal of Phoenix is to build safer communities by assisting its clients in overcoming barriers to success.

Phoenix entered into an agreement with The Community Improvement Corporation earlier this year to purchase five acres at the Vinton County Industrial Park immediately north of the current South Central Department of Job and Family Services.

The land purchase was made subject to a determination that adequate utilities are available. Representatives of Phoenix met with the McArthur Board of Public Affairs and McArthur Village Council earlier this year to discuss the needs and answer questions about the facility. Eddie Philibaun and John Adkins of Phoenix attended the February 2020 McArthur Council meeting to give council members information about their organization. Also in attendance was Vinton County Commissioner Mark Fout.

Fout noted at the Sept. 28 ceremony that he’s very thankful for this new development, as he has witnessed a lot of need for this kind of programming in the county. He also noted that many families must drive out of the county to seek treatment for their loved ones, and after that, continue to drive out of the county in order to visit them.

County Commissioner William Wellman echoed this issue, saying that lack of contact with family members could create more obstacles in a person’s path to recovery.

“They need support,” Wellman said.

The facility is expected to have roughly 40 beds, and the center will have 35 or more employees. Commissioner Fout noted that executives behind Phoenix plan to hire locally. Fout also told the Vinton-Jackson Courier that ground was expected to be broken a few months ago, but the pandemic stalled some plans. However, overall, the facility will have been constructed and ready hopefully by next summer.

Vinton County Prosecutor Trecia Kimes-Brown told the Vinton-Jackson Courier at the Sept. 28 ceremony that the center and the services it will provide is a “physical manifestation” of what people in the county have been hoping for.

“Today is one of the most exciting days of my entire legal career,” Kimes-Brown said. “People need hope. Problems spiral because of lack of hope.”

In February of 2019, at the invitation Kimes-Brown and a group of approximately four dozen various county stakeholders met to create a strategic county-wide plan to address the effects of the drug epidemic.

The meeting brought together school officials, law enforcement officers, mental health agencies, health department members, and many others. Issues raised included those related to health and wellness, education and awareness, family and community support and lack of available bed spaces for those involved in active addiction and recovery such as incarceration, rehabilitation and transitional facilities. The groups representing these areas continue to meet to create a written plan.

The latter committee led by Prosecutor Kimes-Brown, various criminal justice representatives, elected officials and community members, met with members of The Phoenix Center last fall to discuss the possibility of opening a residential treatment facility within the county. The committee presented their needs to Phoenix: detoxification facilities, in-patient treatment facilities, transitional and sober living facilities, education and skills training opportunities for program participants and work options.

The Phoenix Center did offer solutions modeled after the Star program currently operated in Franklin Furnace, Ohio, a program that many Vinton County residents have attended.

The Phoenix Center offers its own financial investors and does not need county dollars to build its facility. The facility will have many positions including clinical director, transportation specialist and more.

sdawes@vintoncourier.com; @sydneydawes_95

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