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Dave Olson, Published October 04 2010

Treatment center may open youth site

An assisted-living center in north Moorhead is closing, and a residential treatment center for adolescents may take its place.

The new center would focus on youths ages 13 to 18 who have chemical dependency or mental health issues, said Laurie Ray, director of Anchorage, which operates a residential treatment center for adults in Moorhead’s Townsite Centre.

Ray said Anchorage still needs to secure a license from the state and take care of other matters for the adolescent center, though she anticipates the center could be ready by early 2011.

Anchorage wants to use a building that now houses the Northside Retirement Home, an assisted-living center, which plans to close by Nov. 1, Clay County officials say.

The new residential treatment center would be a locked facility, meaning youths could not come and go without supervision, and it could house between 10 and 15 individuals, Ray said.

Some neighbors are worried about the retirement home possibly being converted to a chemical dependency center.

“This place would be a block from a park. And that’s kind of what got us all started,” said Jo Anne Knutson, the mother of a 19-month-old, whose family lives a few houses from the retirement home.

“There are a lot of children in this neighborhood,” Knutson said. “We’re worried about what the children would be exposed to and whether there would be additional crime problems.”

Anchorage’s location in the Townsite Centre has not posed problems since it secured a contract to provide services to Clay County in 2006, said Pat Boyer, a supervisor with Clay County Social Services.

Boyer said before any new Anchorage program that accepts public dollars could start operating, it would first have to be approved by county officials.

Anchorage has notified the county it is working on a proposal, but county officials have yet to see details.

Anchorage’s Townsite Centre facility is a 10-bed chemical dependency treatment center for adults.

It also has eight beds that are part of a clean and sober/room and board operation that serves adult males who otherwise would be homeless, Ray said.

The adolescent center would not offer room and board.

Neither the Townsite location nor the proposed adolescent center will accept convicted sex offenders into their programs, Ray said.

She said the planned adolescent facility could admit youths who have been in trouble with the law because of alcohol or drug use, but they typically would not be coming from a detention-type situation.

“The less restrictive environments have not worked for that child,” Ray said, adding that if the Anchorage experience doesn’t work for a child, a more restrictive option such as detention may be the next step.

She said clients of the Townsite Centre location are typically there for chemical dependency and mental health issues outside of something like a court sentence.

Moorhead police records show that officers have been called to Anchorage’s Townsite Centre facility a number of times in recent years.

The incidents include the report of an assault in May 2008 and the report of threats in August 2008.

A disturbance was reported at the site in May 2009, and there were two reports of intoxicated individuals that same year.

Moorhead Police Lt. Tory Jacobson said the number of calls is not a problem.

“I think they’re certainly handling their responsibilities well,” Jacobson said.

Rhonda Porter, director of Clay County Social Services, said any proposal for a new residential treatment center will be looked at closely.

“We certainly would want to look at the program, the structure, the level of training of staff, all of those kinds of things,” Porter said.

Ray said before any clients would be admitted to a new center, the public would be invited to tour the facility.

She said Anchorage is considering setting up an advisory board that would meet quarterly and include members of the public.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555