UPDATE: Grace Project Off to a Good Start

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UPDATE 3/14/2014 11:15 AM

It's a year-long lifestyle recovery program to help people live a life free from addiction.

The Latrobe Street Mission's Grace Project is getting people on the right path.

Jason Batten, director of operations, says the three-phase, two-track program that started March 3rd is focusing on counseling, education and faith-based classes.

He says it's really important to combat the pandemic problem with drug abuse, drug addiction and substance abuse here at home.

"I think the most rewarding thing so far has been just listening to the residents come up and talk about the positive changes that they notice within themselves already," he says.

Batten says there's very good morale right now and people who still want to join the program.

The next round of classes start in July.

UPDATE 2/18/2014 5:05 PM

It's a long-term recovery program to help people reclaim their life from addiction.

The Latrobe Street Mission launches the Grace Project.

Jason Batten, director of operations, says the three-phase, two-track program will start March 3rd and focus on counseling, education and faith.

He says this is really important because there is a pandemic problem with drug abuse, drug addiction and substance abuse here at home.

"For a lot of people to come out of a homeless situation, they need something a little more intensive, more intensive help than just the services a shelter would provide," Batten says. "Those services are really important but some people need more."

Batten says like job skills training, writing resumes and designing a budget.

He's very excited and says we're going to see some really positive life change that comes out of this program.\

Click on the link to the right for more information on how to become involved with the Grace Project.

UPDATE 2/10/2014 4:45 PM

One local homeless shelter makes strides towards expanding its cause.

The Latrobe Street Mission hosted Wood County Commissioners Monday morning.

Commissioners toured the shelter.

Representatives also explained the variety of services they're providing, including their goals of transforming the mission into a full recovery center.

Directors say that could happen this year.

"So we approached them. They considered it and decided they would like to take this on, this is a part of their bigger mission of helping people and getting people back to normal lives," says Commissioner Wayne Dunn.

The plan right now is to provide 10 to 15 beds.

Renovations would cost $30,000 and would include the Storck building on Latrobe Street.

It's too late in the year for the Mission to receive a state grant that Westbrook had previously received.

The commission is considering if their budget could help the Mission in the meantime.

UPDATE 2/3/2014 4:45 PM

Hope for another public intoxication treatment center in Wood County comes with a price tag.

The county commission was asked Monday morning for $60,000 to help set up the center at the Latrobe Street Mission.

That's in anticipation of grant money to reimburse the county for that project at a later date.

It's a request at least one commissioner is concerned about.

"If the law enforcement and all those involved are trying to do a better job of finding places for these people to end up than at the homeless center, then instead of being one of five counties with a public intoxication center, it would make sense that we would be one of 51 counties without it," says Commissioner Blair Couch.

The commissioners' tentative plan is to tour the Mission next Monday.

They've been looking for a new site since Westbrook Health Services ended its public intoxication center December 31st.

UPDATE 12/30/2013 4:30 PM

After Tuesday Westbrook Health Services will no longer provide alcohol treatment.

But someone else may step up to take on that task.

It won't happen at the stroke of midnight Tuesday but the Latrobe Street Mission hopes to eventually provide the services Westbrook is already phasing out.

The Mission has been trying to find funding for an alcohol treatment center and is also looking for financial help from the community, and perhaps eventually from the Wood County Commission.

It already houses a homeless shelter at its site at the Old Storck Bakery building.

"We house anywhere from 75 to 85 people a night in these situations," says Shad Martin, Executive Director of the Latrobe Street Mission. "We're ready to start a drug and alcohol treatment facility, or any kind of life hangup treatment facility, where we'll be able to help individuals get free of these things in these situations."

Martin says the shelter has had to turn people away because of alcohol issues.

He says alcoholism isn't just a homeless problem, but it is part of the problem with homelessness.

UPDATE 12/9/2013 12:35 PM

The Wood County Commission gives Westbrook Health Services a one year lease for a building which housed its alcohol treatment center.

But, beginning January 1, Westbrook will be operating a broader substance abuse program from that site.

It notified the commission late last summer it is ending its alcohol treatment program there as of December 31st.

The commission is now trying to find ways to set up an alcohol treatment program of its own.

"To find some suitable alternative to add into the lease, to make up for the fact that we're no longer going to be getting one of the services that they guaranteed to us when this lease was entered into, and that's what this lease does," says Wood County Prosecutor Jason Wharton.

The commission, meanwhile, took no action on a request from the Washington Avenue Community Association for $3,000 for a beautification project in that Parkersburg neighborhood.

The money would serve as a loan until grant funding becomes available.

While not ruling out providing the funds, the commissioners encouraged association members to seek private money for the project.

Update: 11/25/2013 6:30 P.M.

An alcohol rehabilitation program for Wood County will continue, with a few changes.

The county commission Monday decided to make some changes to the program run by Westbrook Health Services.

By law, it has to be offered to residents statewide.

But at Westbrook's suggestion, there will now be more beds available only to Wood County residents.

"We would like to make the commitment that we will serve 34 charity care people from Wood County.," CEO Joanne Powell told the commission. "That leaves 14 (beds) for the other surrounding seven counties."

While the rehab program will continue, however, outside funding for an energy conservation program will not.

The commission, while giving its support for it, decided not to go after a federal grant.

Commissioner Blair Couch said it could be funded entirely with county money.

This comes after a controversy earlier this year over an energy audit program with outside funding.

It was learned Commission President Wayne Dunn, and not the full commission, was overseeing its operation.


UPDATE 9/13/13 10:50 A.M.

The Wood County Commission recently was told by Westbrook Health Services that it wants to change a lease agreement for its Mission Drive treatment clinic.

The change would eliminate its public intoxication services, for which it has a state grant through the end of this year.

"I recently received a notification that they did not want to pursue that. and I believe, under the terms of the lease, they would be required to continue those service," says Jason Wharton, Wood County Prosecuting Attorney.

Westbrook's understanding of that 99-year lease, however, is that it could be ended if the site is no longer being used for substance abuse services, which it plans to continue.

"We'd like to increase the beds we have available for people who are struggling with substance abuse issues, as a residential treatment center," says Liz Ford, Marketing Coordinator with Westbrook Health Services.

And to de-emphasize alcohol treatment, something Westbrook says is not currently as large an issue now as both prescription and illegal drug abuse.

"There's been about a 26% decrease in the past year in use. But yet, the need for in-patient detox and rehabilitation has increased," Ford says.

Ford says the state grant Westbrook receives for the alcohol treatment program has not been funded for the past six months.

It's due to end December 31st, and the county commission plans to find out if another agency might be interested in picking it up

Westbrook Health Services says it is not changing its commitment to alcohol abuse treatment.

Earlier this week, the Wood County Commission got a request from Westbrook to modify a grant it gets for alcohol treatment services.

It was an indication it wanted to eliminate its treatment center on Mission Drive in South Parkersburg.

But Westbrook says it simply wants to change the program to emphasize substance abuse in general - in other words, drugs as well as alcohol.

"Given the instances of prescription drug abuse and heroin overdoses we've had in our community over the past several years, we feel this would be a better use of the facility and a better use of the community's resources," says Liz Ford, Westbrook's Marketing Coordinator.

The commission has not yet approved Westbrook's request.

It plans an inspection of the Mission Drive clinic in the next week or two.

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