Douglas County leaders accept $6.2 million state grant for behavioral health crisis center

photo by: Austin Hornbostel/Journal-World

The Treatment and Recovery Center of Douglas County, 1000 W. Second St., is pictured on Monday, April 10, 2023. The facility opened its doors to patients for the first time Monday morning.

Douglas County leaders on Wednesday accepted a grant from the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services that will account for more than $6.2 million of the county’s new behavioral health crisis center’s funding through 2024.

With the grant secured, the county now has all of the necessary pieces to fund the Treatment and Recovery Center of Douglas County, 1000 W. Second St. It’s been partially open since early April, shortly after the county came to an agreement with Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center to operate the facility.

“I appreciate all the support we’re getting from the state on this,” Commissioner Patrick Kelly said at the commission’s meeting on Wednesday. “… I think it’s really great to have the state’s support as we try to figure this out.”

As the Journal-World reported, the grant agreement with KDADS is meant to serve as the first source of funding used to offset the center’s operating expenses. According to the county’s director of behavioral health projects, Bob Tryanski, it’s the largest funding source for 2023.

photo by: Douglas County

This chart shows the Treatment and Recovery Center of Douglas County’s revenue sources for 2023. The largest source will be a grant from the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, which the Douglas County Commission accepted at its Wednesday, May 3, 2023 meeting.

Tryanski called the grant good news after a “season of complexity.” The center didn’t begin accepting patients until nearly 10 months after the county hosted a ribbon cutting for the facility last year in June, but now it seems that Bert Nash is on track to adhere to the next phase of the opening timeline it laid out early last month.

“We are on target to open both (the 23-hour stabilization unit and the 72-hour observation unit) on the morning of May 25, so we will definitely meet the timeline we set out,” Bert Nash CEO Patrick Schmitz told commissioners.

In other business, commissioners:

* Authorized a nearly $1.7 million purchase agreement and remodeling budget for a satellite site for the Douglas County Treasurer’s Office.

The county will purchase a property at 2601 West Sixth St., previously an office building not far from Centennial Park, for $650,000. With the purchase, the county’s current satellite location at 31st and Iowa streets will be closed permanently, but it’s unclear when exactly that will happen.

photo by: Google Maps

Douglas County is looking to purchase a property at 2601 West 6th St., previously an office building, to be used as a satellite location for the Douglas County Treasurer’s Office.

Funds to lease and remodel a building for the new office were accounted for in the county’s 2023 budget and via an American Rescue Plan Act funding request, but Douglas County Administrator Sarah Plinsky told commissioners that the county had to pivot to purchasing a property outright after failing to find anything suitable on the rental market.

Plinsky said though purchasing the building means the cost for a new office is higher than anticipated, it’ll be covered by the county’s Capital Improvement contingency fund.

Kelly said the new location sounded like a positive move, especially given that it’s centrally located and hopefully easier to get to for folks in Lawrence who don’t live near the Douglas County Courthouse on the east side of the city.

“I do feel like this will be a great way to increase accessibility,” Kelly said. “We’ve had a lot of challenges for those who come to the courthouse — people sitting on the stairs, especially at the end of the month — and I appreciate all the work that went into looking for a property and finding something that worked for the community.”

* Heard from Plinsky that Florida-based NextEra Energy Resources has requested to move a hearing scheduled for the May 10 commission meeting to the June 21 meeting.

Next week, commissioners were supposed to consider the energy firm’s requests to conduct testing for a potential large-scale solar project, which they’d deferred in late March after learning NextEra had already been performing some of those tests without a permit. NextEra has been exploring whether southeastern Douglas County would be a viable location for a portion of its 3,000-acre West Gardner Solar project.

A notice posted on the county’s Facebook page notes that the company is planning a series of community meetings, but it’s unclear when they might be taking place. The Journal-World on Tuesday sent an email to an address associated with the project to ask when those meetings will be scheduled but has yet to receive a response.


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