ROAN MOUNTAIN, Tenn. (WJHL) – The former Northeast Correctional Complex Annex in Carter County which used to house inmates may soon instead become a place of hope.

Mayors, commissioners, and other county leaders in Northeast Tennessee came together Friday to tour the facility and discuss transforming it into an addiction recovery center.

The focus is on those who have a prior record and have been going through the justice system.

“The hopes instead of incarceration, we hope to do rehabilitation, and really help the families in our communities that have been ravaged by meth addiction,” Carter County Mayor Patty Woodby said. “It seems to be tearing our families apart in our rural communities.”

Rep. Tim Hicks (R-Gray) said after his own battle with addiction, he’s motivated to help those struggling with the same.

“I totally understand what recovery is about,” Hicks said. “Recovery has to be and needs to be a life-changing experience.”

Hicks said those going through recovery courts who need to go to a long-term facility usually have to be sent out to Nashville or Memphis.

The details for the program are still being ironed out, but after a judge decides a male addict is eligible, they will likely be housed for one to one and half years. Another site is to be created for females.

Once admitted, addicts will not only receive recovery support but also learn new skills.

“We’re going to have the TCAT programs there so that you know they can learn a trade, and try to get a job,” Sen. Rusty Crowe (R-Johnson City) said. “Hopefully get them to a point that when they get out they’re going to be valuable citizens and contribute to our society.”

Lawmakers across eight Northeast Tennessee counties are coming together to work on the project and show their support.

“This is a good first step,” Sullivan County Mayor Richard Venable said. “It’s not going to solve all of the problems, but it’s really an opportunity of a lifetime for Northeast Tennessee.”

Next week, Hicks and others plan to meet with the Commissioner of Finance and other state departments to start moving forward.

“I have learned to have a feeling when something feels right,” Hicks said. “This feels right.”

Hicks said the goal is to open the new facility within the next year.