KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) – The Kingsport Board of Mayor and Aldermen (BMA) unanimously approved $1.1 million Tuesday to help fund the region’s soon-to-be-completed drug recovery center in Carter County.
At its regularly scheduled meeting, the board voted to pass the funds to the First Tennessee Development District (FTDD) for the Northeast Tennessee Regional Recovery Center.
Before voting on the resolution to provide funding, the board first had to approve a budget adjustment ordinance.
“[The] item you’re going to vote upon next will help distribute the Baby Doe funds to the Northeast Tennessee Regional Recovery Center,” Deputy City Manager Ryan McReynolds said when introducing the item. “That’s one of the large things within this budget ordinance so we ask that you approve this ordinance upon second and final reading.”
Vice Mayor Colette George made the motion to approve the ordinance, and Alderman Tommy Olterman seconded the motion. It passed unanimously, allowing the board to hear a resolution for funding the recovery center.
“This board, as well as other groups within the community, over the past few months has received multiple presentations from the area judges, as well as a few legislators that have been involved in paving the way through the state of Tennessee related to really providing hope for our area as we struggle with the drug epidemic,” McReynolds said. “This has been the pathway our judges have felt is gonna be most effective.”
Mayor Pat Shull said the recovery center is in the process of “standing up” with the hope being that the first to receive care there could be admitted by April or early May. Shull serves on the FTDD board of directors and therefore abstained from the vote that followed.
Multiple counties and localities in Northeast Tennessee received funds as part of a settlement in the Baby Doe opioid lawsuit. Governing bodies are allowed to use the funds as they see fit, with many in the region electing to work together to lead to the creation of the drug recovery center.
Some counties have also directed federal ARPA funds toward the project.
“In our case, we’re gonna vote tonight to provide $1.1 million toward this facility which, in my opinion, is a great facility,” Shull said of the Roan Mountain facility. “It gives people a true second chance to get straight and get on their feet.”
In January, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed the lease for the center.