CARTER COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) – The Tri-Cities region is closer than ever to opening the region’s first ever long-term addiction treatment center in Carter County.

A release from the office of Carter County Mayor Patty Woodby states that a lease agreement was signed Tuesday between the board overseeing the project and the State of Tennessee. The treatment center would be located in Roan Mountain at a former Tennessee Department of Correction facility.

According to Woodby, who serves as chairwoman of the board, the facility is an old prison work camp that used to house minimum security inmates as part of Northeast Correctional Complex. The site was closed in 2021 in a cost-saving venture by TDOC, the release states.

“The hope is that instead of incarceration, we can focus on rehabilitation for our residents,” Woodby said in the release. “We want to help the families in our community that have been ravaged by drug addiction. It is something that seems to be tearing families apart in our rural communities.”

Leaders from across Northeast Tennessee hope to benefit the area by creating the treatment center, which will work with drug recovery courts to determine the best courses of rehabilitation for patients.

“It warms my heart to know that people are going to be able to be helped,” Rep. Tim Hicks (R-Gray) said.

Hicks and fellow state representatives led the charge in Nashville. “We talked to the Governor, he was one hundred percent in,” Hicks said. “He worked really hard for us.”

The building contains 180 beds as of Thursday. The release also states that the center would offer educational opportunities for patients to continue schooling or learn a trade skill.

“Our plan is to open the facility in March with 45 patients to start out,” Woodby said in the release.

According to Woodby, the facility would serve nine counties, not just Carter County. The lease has been sent to Tennessee Governor Bill Lee for final approval.

The full release can be read below:

Local leaders from across the Tri-Cities have been planning the addiction treatment center since the Baby Doe opioid lawsuit resulted in a multi-million dollar settlement. Multiple localities in Northeast Tennessee decided to pool their portions of the settlement together to fund the project as a way to serve the community and battle local opioid addiction.