ROAN MOUNTAIN, Tenn. (WJHL) – After months of preparation, Gov. Bill Lee joined dozens of local politicians and leaders to cut the ribbon on the Northeast Tennessee Regional Recovery Center.

The facility, located at the former Roan Mountain Work Camp prison, was leased to a group of local leaders last October.

Just months later, the recovery center is almost ready to house people moving through the region.

The Roan Mountain facility is for male participants and houses 85 beds.

A facility in Johnson City can house 10 women in the same program.

Violent offenders and sex offenders are excluded from the program.

The program serves the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Judicial District Recovery Courts, which covers nine East Tennessee counties.

Once the recovery center fully opens, it will house recovering addicts convicted of drug crimes for 12 to 18 months.

The goal is to give those individuals a sense of community during their stay and provide them with job training and education to find employment.

“What’s happening here is an attempt to solve a problem that has yet been able to be solved,” Lee said.

Much of the initial funding for the recovery center came from local cuts of the settlement reached in the Baby Doe lawsuit.

Eleven local governments contributed some of their settlement money to the initiative.

“When everybody sits down at the table together and brings a piece of the pie to the table, it’s limitless what we can do for our communities,” said Carter County Mayor Patty Woodby.

Lee said the level of local collaboration seen in the project sets an example.

“This is life-changing work,” Lee said. “This is what communities should partner together with the government to solve. The greatest challenges that negatively affect the most people.”

Addiction non-profit Families Free will run the treatment and program at the facility.

Executive Director Lisa Tipton said the program is completely free and aims to help people learn and heal among others.

“Everything that happens up here on this mountain is going to be built around that we heal in community,” Tipton said.

Each participant in the program works based on an individualized plan.

Eventually, those people are given educational and job-related training to help them find employment.

“They can find their own path as they’re within the safety and structure of this facility,” Tipton said.

Lee said the program’s goal of re-integrating drug offenders back into society is a big key to its success.

“What will happen here is that they will become productive citizens and take the burden off the communities and the taxpayers,” Lee said.

Woodby said she is proud to have the facility in her county.

“We decided to fund this facility to really help our people that are struggling,” Woodby said. “We look after our own and that’s what Carter County does.”

After touring the facility, Lee said the program could become a model for other locations in the state.

“True partnership of folks in nine counties to make this happen,” Lee said. “This used to be a prison. Now, it’s going to be a place where people are set free and that is a redemptive, hopeful story for upper East Tennessee to solve a really serious challenge.”

Tipton said there is still some work that needs to be done before the facility can admit participants. That includes finishing up some areas, training staff, and finding community partners to help participants get jobs.

If all goes well, Tipton said the facility could fully open in September.