MILLARD — City and state officials held the grand opening for the new Riverplace male residential drug addiction treatment center on Tuesday, a facility which, officials said, could house as many as 120 patients by January.
Riverplace is located at the old Millard School, 8015 Millard Highway, and it is connected to Addiction Recovery Care, which is a connection of 34 addiction treatment centers in 13 counties across Eastern and Central Kentucky.
During the grand opening, Pike County Judge-Executive Ray Jones introduced speakers at the event and gave his own remarks, regarding the significance of the treatment center for the county.
“Very few families in Eastern Kentucky can say that they have not been affected by drug addiction in some way or another,” Jones said. “This is a historic day for Pike County. This facility, in my opinion, will save countless lives.”
Pikeville Mayor Jimmy Carter said that he has seen a “tremendous need” for the facility in Pike County to help people who are struggling with drug addiction.
“We’ve got to do something about the horrible plague of substance abuse that has affected our community,” Carter said.
Greg May, president of the Utilities Management Group, worked to renovate the building throughout the past two years with the help of about 12-15 workers. May spoke at the event and often became emotional when expressing his gratitude for those who helped him during the process of renovating the facility, including his wife and his business partner, Bobby Sturgeon, among many others.
May said he and Sturgeon received “nothing but praise and support” from county and local officials and the community as they have worked on the facility.
“We named our facility Riverplace, obviously, because of the location, but also we wanted to emphasize a place of serenity for people who eventually reside here while their lives are being healed,” May said. “Bobby and I have a passion for helping families in Eastern Kentucky who have suffered so much from the pain from the effects of the issues of opioids, other prescription and non-prescription medications and illegal drugs.”
May developed the idea to turn the abandoned school building into a treatment center after his own brother died of a drug overdose, and he sought the help of the Appalachian Regional Commission and his business partner, Bobby Sturgeon, to make it happen.
“I truly believe that he would be here with us at this open house if he had decided to complete the 12 steps of his treatment,” May said, regarding his brother.
Gov. Matt Bevin visited the facility on Tuesday and spoke during the event about the importance of the facility and why Kentucky and the country need to continue fighting drug addiction, which, he said, often starts with prescribed opioids.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, from 1999 to 2015, prescription opioids were the underlying cause of drug overdose deaths. In 2017, there were 1,160 reported opioid-involved deaths in Kentucky. In 2017, 19.7 million Americans battled with substance abuse, including alcohol, opioids and other illicit drugs, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
“The country is battling a drug epidemic that needs to be taken care of,” Bevin said. “Addiction doesn’t give a rip which party you are. It affects everyone.”
Bevin said he is appreciative of the work that May and Sturgeon have done to make the facility possible.
“Greg, for what you and Bobby have done with this, thank you,” Bevin said during his address. “You didn’t need to do this. You had any number of other things you’ve done and you could have continued to do in this community, but your heart for giving back and remembering where you came from is meaningful.”
Other speakers at the event included Pikeville Medical Center CEO Donovan Blackburn, Addiction Recovery Care CEO and Founder Tim Robinson and former Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher. State Rep. John Blanton gave the invocation, and Dave Hammonds, pastor of Faith Baptist Church of Myra, closed the event in prayer.
Before closing the event, Robinson recognized May’s brother whose death inspired May to renovate Riverplace. He said that the chapel located in Riverplace will be named the Timmy Dale May Chapel, in honor of May’s brother. May and Robinson also unveiled a portrait of Timmy that, Robinson said, will hang in the chapel in his memory.
Riverplace will start accepting patients at the center about one week after Tuesday, reaching capacity with 32 patients by Sept. 1. The center will increase its capacity to 120 beds by January of next year.
When the facility reaches capacity, Riverplace will employ between 40-50 employees, including counselors, peer support specialists, nurses, nurse practitioners and residential staff. The residential center will provide patients with a structured program to help them on their roads to recovery, involving private counseling, a recreational facility and bedroom facilities.
May said he hopes to expand the center into two separate facilities, with the first being the male residential center. He hopes for the second phase of Riverplace to include a food bank for recovering patients, classrooms and additional work stations for recovering patients who wish to complete their GED, additional counseling offices, child therapy counseling and transitional housing, including four two-bedroom apartments.
For more information on Addiction Recovery Care, visit, www.arccenters.com. For individuals in Kentucky seeking treatment for themselves or others, as well as family members who have questions or are in need of support, call the KY HELP Statewide Call Center, (833)-859-4357.