Pubdate: Wed, 30 Aug 2006
Source: Bangor Daily News (ME)
Copyright: 2006 Bangor Daily News Inc.
Author: Katherine Cassidy
Bookmark: (Methadone)
Bookmark: (Treatment)


CHERRYFIELD - Discovery House, a for-profit drug  treatment center
based in Rhode Island, plans to locate  a new outpatient drug
treatment center just one-fifth  of a mile from Cherryfield Elementary

There is no state regulation that prevents the  licensing of a
substance abuse treatment facility  located near a school or day care

The building that Discovery House intends to purchase  and turn into a
facility for dispensing methadone is  located along Route 182. From
that parking lot to the  school at 85 School St., the driving distance
is 0.2  mile.

Kim Johnson, director of the state Office of Substance  Abuse, said
Tuesday that, while there is no distance  regulation in place with
respect to proposed clinics  and schools, the Maine Legislature last
year passed a  relevant resolve, one that is soon to become a  regulation.

"Our office will do a needs assessment before licenses  are given,"
she said, "to see if a community actually  needs a clinic. We also
work with clinics and help them  find the best locations."

John Sawyer, the Cherryfield school's principal, could  not be reached
for comment on Tuesday.

Deb Stewart, superintendent for SAD 37 that includes  Cherryfield,
said that she was aware of the potential  location issue.

"Anytime we hear about this kind of situation, it  raises concern,"
Stewart said, noting it is a situation  that she will be watching.
"But it is a clinic, and  there is supervision and therapy going on."

The public will get its chance to learn more about the  clinic and its
plans tonight at the first informational  meeting by Discovery House
representatives for area  residents. The meeting takes place at 7 p.m.
at the  town office's meeting room - which seats about 40  people.

The facility would be the second methadone clinic for  Washington
County. Discovery House has operated a  clinic in Calais since April
2005. That one currently  serves more than 200 clients.

Discovery House operates 15 clinics in Maine, Rhode  Island,
Pennsylvania and Utah. Its Maine clinics are in  Calais, Waterville
and South Portland.

Daniel Walker, an attorney in Augusta with the  Bernstein Shur Nelson
firm, represents Discovery House  in its quest to open in Cherryfield.
He said that  siting a Discovery House facility near schools is "not

"In fact, there is a day care next door to Discovery  House in South
Portland," he said.

According to Google's map service, Discovery House and  the
Kinder-Play Preschool and Child Center are located  less than a
half-mile apart on different streets.

"I don't even know where Discovery House is," an  employee of
Kinder-Play said Tuesday, when asked if the  day care was located next
door to the facility.

In Calais, the Discovery House at 12 Beech St. falls  four-tenths of a
mile from Head Start-St. Croix on  Garfield Street.

The Calais Middle School at 1 Washington St. is located  nine-tenths
of a mile from the clinic.

In one of Discovery House's two facilities in Utah, a  school is
located next door - 135 feet from the  clinic's Salt Lake City
location. In the other facility  in Orem, the clinic is one-fifth of a
mile from a day  care center.

Those making the presentation for Discovery House  tonight will be
Walker; Dan Mahoney, the management  director at the South Portland
facility; and Rob  Kronacki, Discovery House's development director
out of  Providence, R.I.

Representatives of the Calais clinic will also be on  hand for
explanations and answers.

The question of whether a school's proximity to an  outpatient drug
treatment center is problematic draws a  range of responses.

Jared Mowry of Cherryfield, a father of three boys, is  pastor of the
Church of the Open Bible in Cherryfield.  He has urged members of his
congregation to attend this  evening's meeting.

"My biggest concern is for the community," Mowry said.  "I don't agree
with the methadone clinics; it's a poor  use of taxpayers' money.

"If they want to bring in an actual, residential  rehabilitation
place, I'd be in favor of that. But what  they're offering is getting
them off one drug, for  another. [Users] are going from a street drug
to a  clinical drug."

Rick Tanney of Lubec, a board member of the Washington  County Drug
Action Team, said he is not bothered by  Discovery House locating near
Cherryfield Elementary.

"These people, the clients, aren't dangerous," Tanney  said. "They are
just going to get their medication. And  by agreement with Discovery
House, they have to leave.  They can't hang around.

"I personally don't see a problem with it."

Walker said he and Kronacki have had conversations  with, or left
messages for, all selectmen and the  planning board chairwoman. He
said that negative  responses have been "few."

Permission from town officials is not needed for a  substance abuse
clinic to go into a neighborhood,  Walker said, just licensing from
the state Office of  Substance Abuse.

Kronacki's run-through of ZIP codes of Discovery House  clients in
Calais showed that a sizable number were  driving daily from points in
western Washington County.

Kronacki considered locating a second Discovery House  for Washington
County in Machias, and even addressed  the board of directors of Down
East Community Hospital  earlier this year.

But an ideal location within Machias was not available,  he said last
week, and the Cherryfield location  surfaced as a more logical

Walker called Discovery House clients "people looking  to get

"They are not the problem," he said. "They are really  trying to make
their lives better.

"If a community really has a problem with this  [locating near a
school], Discovery House could make  agreements with clients in their
treatment plans that  they cannot go within a certain distance of a

Rep. Eddie DuGay, D-Cherryfield, is a supporter of  bringing Discovery
House to his hometown. In addition  to providing substance abuse
treatment and counseling  options, the facility represents "economic
development," he said.

A Discovery House in Cherryfield could provide as many  as 10 jobs,
between positions for medical director,  pharmacist, nurses,
counselors and administrative  staff.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Derek