Douglas County leaders hearing questions about why crisis center isn’t open yet; update on facility pushed back 2 weeks

photo by: Austin Hornbostel/Journal-World

New Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical chief Richard Llewellyn offers some introductory remarks to the Douglas County Commission at its Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022 meeting. Llewellyn was sworn into the job in late August.

Douglas County leaders have been hearing questions about why the county’s new behavioral health crisis center isn’t operating yet, and they will have to wait two more weeks to hear an update on the center at a County Commission meeting.

An update on the status of the Treatment and Recovery Center of Douglas County was on the agenda for Wednesday’s County Commission meeting, but Douglas County Administrator Sarah Plinsky told commissioners it would have to wait, because the center’s executive director and medical director, Dr. George Thompson, was out of town and was unable to attend the meeting. The presentation on the center’s progress was rescheduled for the commission’s Oct. 12 meeting.

At that meeting, Plinsky said, the commission should expect to hear more about staffing efforts and the process of licensing the facility, among other details. It’s unclear whether that will include a tentative opening date.

Commissioner Shannon Reid said she’d heard many folks in the community asking about why the center wasn’t open yet.

“Those are valid questions, and we understand that there are things that we need to speak about that, and I want that to be a thorough conversation,” Reid said. “Having Dr. Thompson here and being able to provide a thorough update is important. … It is very important to this commission and to the county to open this center as soon as possible and in the best possible way, and there are a lot of things that are required to do that.”

When the county broke ground on the Treatment and Recovery Center in October of 2020, the estimate at the time was that construction would be complete by the end of 2021. The facility was eventually completed and dedicated, but not until June of this year, and no opening date was shared during the dedication ceremony.

In other business, the commission:

* Read a proclamation designating Oct. 2-8 as National 4-H Week in Douglas County.

* Authorized adopting project specifications and soliciting construction bids for a project to improve the safety of Route 458 in rural Douglas County. The item was pulled by a member of the public from the commission’s consent agenda.

The project will reconstruct a mile-long stretch of road located on North 1000 Road between East 1500 and East 1600 roads near Lawrence, two county routes that carry “quite a bit of traffic,” according to Director of Public Works Chad Voigt. The stretch is a frequent site for accidents as a result, Voigt said.

* Heard an introduction from the new chief of Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical, Rich Llewellyn. Llewellyn was sworn into the role in late August.

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