WILLIAMSON – Serenity Point, a recovery center planned for the Sycamore Inn location in downtown Williamson, has been an ongoing controversy in Williamson for the last several months. At Wednesday’s meeting of the Mingo County Commission, a heated and emotional debate occurred following the Housing Authority of Mingo County’s (HAMC) request for the county to pen a letter of support for the recovery facility.
Belinda Harness, HAMC Executive Director, approached the commission to request a letter of support for the facility. Harness explained that the facility which will be converted into 60 efficiency apartments, would provide those that have completed a 12 step recovery program to continue to receive treatment, would provide those individuals with a drug free environment to safeguard against relapse, assist parents in reuniting with their children, and provide opportunities to help those individuals with job placement; allowing them to return to the community as a productive member of society. Residents of the facility will be held accountable through a peer and faith based recovery model.
According to the Dual Recovery website, “The primary goal of aftercare is to prevent a relapse into drug or alcohol use. By providing continuing counseling, group sessions and other schedule meetings, aftercare programs provide an extra level of accountability that helps insure that the individual has not fallen back on old habit.”
Harness explains that the facility will revitalize that portion of downtown Williamson, create a facility that the community will be proud of and at the same time, provide a service to assist those afflicted with addiction in the area. Harness also states that the Sycamore Inn location is ideal due to the close proximity to hospitals and other emergency services and will allow residents to easily access services such as day report, the drug court program and job training.
Those that oppose the recovery center, state that they aren’t opposed to a recovery center in Mingo County or in Williamson, but they are against the location. Charlie Hatfield, a Williamson resident and business owner, has been a vocal opponent to the location of the proposed recovery center. Hatfield was in attendance at Wednesday’s meeting of the Mingo County Commission and spoke out against the facility, requesting that the commission postpone the letter of support until after next Tuesday’s public forum. The public forum will be held Tuesday, February 7 at 6 p.m. at the Williamson Fire Department.
County Commission President, Diann Hannah spoke strongly in favor of the recovery center. “We need rehabilitation for these drug addicted families that have nowhere to go to restructure their life. I am speaking from a personal opinion. I think that when you have a mother and a father who are drug addicted and you have two little kids and they don’t have a home because CPS has had to come and take them and put them with different people because there is nowhere to put them together; I think that we are failing…”
However, Hannah made a motion to postpone the request until after the community forum and the request was tabled until the next regular meeting of the Mingo County Commission which will be held Tuesday, January 21.
Following the Mingo County Commission meeting, Hatfield agreed to an interview to explain the continued opposition to the facility. The article will appear in Sunday’s edition of the Williamson Daily News.
(Courtney Harrison is a news reporter for the Williamson Daily News. She can be contacted at [email protected] or at 304-235-4242 ext. 2279.)