Council discusses drug treatment center in Harlan

Published 6:02 pm Friday, January 17, 2020

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Harlan Mayor Joseph Meadors addressed a handful of citizens regarding an Addiction Recovery Care Center that was speculated to be moving to downtown Harlan in the form of a “halfway house” for those in treatment during Monday’s Harlan City Council meeting.

Meadors said during the last meeting, the council sent a letter to COAP addressing a building they own concerning a deteriorating parapet, which is a decorative edge at the top of a building. He added Harlan City Attorney Jonathon Lee had drafted a letter to express the council’s concern to COAP Executive Director Mike King, who informed Lee the issues were addressed.

“Jonathon Lee told him the city would need a letter informing them of that, and to my knowledge, we have not received that,” Meadors said.

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Meadors said as far as the treatment center is concerned King would like to locate it in the building.

“That’s kind of status quo right now,” the mayor said. “I think the thing, and I want council to correct me if I’m wrong, but I think the thing that really surprised us last time was the surprise about the grant they wanted us to apply for to help them out. It had never been mentioned by anybody until now, but I think they understand now that we have a lot of financial obligations that we have to take of that would probably preclude us from going after the grant, but that doesn’t keep them (COAP) from going after it.”

Meadors said the group had talked about rehabbing the COAP-owned building, which he thought would take roughly nine months to a year to complete and “it’s money we don’t have.”

“If this company wants to put this in and they think it’s a good idea for the community, then they need to sell it to us, but at the end of the day we can’t keep them from coming,” he said. “I would hope if we have concerns, and there are concerns, we could all sit down in the same room and reach some sort of conclusion as to how they can handle those complaints.”

Meadors said supervision and parking are of the concerns being discussed at the moment, adding the downtown area can’t handle 15 or 20 more cars. He concluded by saying the city would not be putting the treatment center in or applying for any money on COAP’s behalf.

“I do think it is a needed facility, but I think it would be better if it was maybe located somewhere else, but that may not be how this company looks at it. They just felt like located downtown would be best for them, but I don’t know if it would be best for all of us.”

Meadors said if ARC wishes to locate into the downtown area, the company officials need to be able to look residents in the eye and listen to their concerns and try to address them.

“I’ll tell you, when Mike first brought this up, I thought it was a get-rich scheme for a company, but I looked them up and they have a pretty good reputation,” he said. “Their treatment model is pretty much the model that’s being used in most other parts of the country now.”

Meadors said before any other progress is made, he would like company representatives to come to a Harlan City Council meeting and address the council and citizens in attendance. But “the ball is in their court now,” he said.

“I don’t want to be talking to any proxies. I want someone that’s high up in this company to look us in the eye and say ‘this is the way we’re going to operate this company’ and stick by it.”

According to ARC’s website, the company operates a network of state-licensed residential and outpatient drug and alcohol abuse treatment centers in Kentucky, including seven residential treatment centers including; a women’s center in Northeast Kentucky near Ashland, a women’s center in southeast Kentucky near London, a women’s center in southeast Kentucky near Harlan, a men’s center in northeast Kentucky near Morehead, a men’s center in northeast Kentucky near Ashland, a men’s residential center in southeast Kentucky near Somerset and a center for pregnant women in northeast Kentucky. Current capacity in the residential centers is 112 beds.

For more information on the ARC centers, you can go to their website at