Several concerned citizens expressed frustration over the proposed sale of the Rodeway Inn on State Route 23 to The Counseling Center.
They have battled with rehab centers before. Citing Cardinal Treatment Centers for zoning violations, they demanded that they vacate their facility. However, they have not budged. In addition to this, Blessed Realty’s owner, Paul Vernier, is currently facing serious legal action. In connection with the operation of his addiction treatment centers, Vernier was indicted on 34 felony charges including Medicaid fraud, drug trafficking, and corruption. Vernier pleaded guilty to two counts of Medicaid fraud on Feb. 5.
Even though many agree that the motel is a blight on the community, they do not agree that a new rehab center is the solution. The idea was even floated that the township should buy the motel and demolish it.
There were no representatives of The Counseling Center at the meeting. Dale King from the Doc Spartan gym on 3rd Street in Portsmouth acted as a go-between. In his remarks, he informed the crowd he did not represent The Counseling Center (TCC) but was willing to facilitate a meeting between the township and the non-profit.
He said all 12 of his employees were members of the recovery community. Crowd members drilled down and asked how many were from out of town. According to King, they all were. The crowd commented that his wife is a member of the board of TCC, and then asked how many of their own drug counselors have overdosed. After that, King made a gracious exit by stating that he would certainly be willing to assist in negotiating a meeting, and would answer any questions, but he would not engage in a Facebook argument.
His departure was delayed when it was brought to his attention that many local jobs were being given to rehab clients before they were offered to local residents. A personal story was shared by one person. Her daughter had to leave town to find work because the jobs were going to rehab clients from out of town and the rental market was overinflated because landlords were getting higher rent offers from TCC than traditional tenants.
“People are getting rewarded for bad behavior,” she said. At the end of her remarks, she said that those who followed the law, did well in school, and wanted to be productive citizens just don’t seem to fit in the local housing market and economy.
The battle against rehabs isn’t being fought by Clay Township alone. According to one of the attendees, they spoke with County Commissioner Bryan Davis. Their message was that the Commissioners are working with the State Legislature to curb the ever-increasing rehab and housing issues.
The numbers discussed at the Portsmouth City Council’s Town Hall meeting were echoed. According to them, between 4,700 and 5,000 people are sent here by court order each year from other counties and large cities. “Success rates” are argued to range between 7 and 12%. What happens to the other 4,400 people? There was no mention of return transportation offered to clients who failed counseling programs.
Please Support This Local Business
Locals make up most of the clients, according to insiders. Local people, however, do not require housing.
Last but not least, it has been revealed that Valero was also considering selling the gas station to TCC in order for it to build a new pharmacy for its clients.
We are a grassroots team of local journalists on a mission to give our community up-to-the-second news and events for Southern Ohio, Northern Kentucky, and Western West Virginia. We believe progress inspires change and we believe our reporting has become the front-lines of Portsmouth, Ohio's comeback.