Stonewater gets approval from supervisors

Published 10:40 am Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Despite concerns from residents and their own reservations, the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors approved the preliminary and final commercial site plan for Stonewater Addiction Recovery Center during their meeting Monday.

The free-will facility, which received a recommendation from the County Planning Commission last week, will be located in the Clear Creek community and will treat up to 16 adolescent males age 12-16.

Developer Bryan Fikes, who went through a similar program when he was addicted as a teen, told supervisors he and his family have a passion for treating these individuals with drug and alcohol addiction.

“We have a history and we are passionate about what it has done in my life, we’re passionate about what it’s done in my family’s life and we’re excited about the opportunity to help other individuals and their families,” Fikes told the board.

Security has been a major concern among some residents who live near the proposed facility. Fikes told the board that there will be 24/7 electronic monitoring, as well as staff who will monitor the clients with periodic bed checks every 15 minutes at night. He assured the board and those in attendance that the clients would be pre-screened and only those individuals with a history of non-violence will be allowed in the program. The clients will also be drug tested.

“My wife and I will live on the property. If this were an environment that was unsafe, I myself would not live on the property, but more importantly I would not have my wife and my future kids living on the property,” Fikes said.

If a client decides they want to leave, they could possibly be housed up to 72 hours in the Tupelo Juvenile Detention Center until their legal guardian arrives to take them. He said that is a situation they would try to avoid and have the patient stay at the facility until their parent arrives.

Stonewater must still meet certain requirements to convert the current structure into the facility that can accommodate the clients, such as water, fire and safety codes.

Supervisor Jeff Busby said he was very concerned about the facility being in the proposed location. Supervisor Chad McLarty, who represents the district where the facility will be located, told Fikes “this is a tough decision.”

“I can’t honestly sit here and say I’d want it in my backyard,” McLarty said. “Before the meeting I had with you on Friday, I was basically a firm no vote. After the conversation with you … that enlightened me and changed a few things because the public safety aspect of a kid running away kind of diminished when you said it was a free-will facility. These are not court-ordered kids coming to your facility.”

McLarty added that he has searched and looked for a reason not to allow the facility to operate but could not find any.

“So I sincerely hope that you are genuine and that you treat this community with the utmost respect and try to be an asset to that community,” McLarty said and then made the motion for approval contingent upon it being a 16-patient and free-will center. The vote to approve was unanimous.