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Plans for opioid treatment center spark security concerns in Henderson County

A rendering of a proposed opioid treatment facility in Henderson County. (Photo credit: First Contact Ministries)

While almost everyone in one mountain community agrees with the need for a treatment facility to help opioid addicts, some have concerns with having one in their own back yard.

"Addiction is serious. Addiction is scary," Leona McCarroll of Kut'n Loose Beauty Salon said. "Professionals like you and I, that know better, that are hooked."

While McCarroll understands the depth of the opioid crisis, the idea of a center right next door leaves her unsettled.

"I don't want to be a victim of someone else's addiction. And I certainly don't want my business to be a victim of it either," she said.

Mud Creek Baptist and First Contact Ministries are planning a 45 bed facility on Erkwood Drive on church-owned land. At a public meeting recently, many surrounding residents, including some from the Dunroy neighborhood, said it's a great idea in a bad location. Part of that property is currently zoned residential and a special permit is required to change that.

"You're also putting lives and property at risk by doing it without the proper security and the property zoning," said Mike Buck, the outgoing president of the Dunroy Master Association. "When you look around, you see guys my age and older, you see a lot of full medicine chests, and you see no security. I don't think that's a good recipe."

Senior pastor Greg Mathis understands the concerns, but told News 13 the treatment center is part of Mud Creek Baptist's mission.

"We exist as a church to minister to hurting families who are suffering from all kinds of evil in our society. I am always concerned about safety when we deal with the tension that is brought about as a result of evil," he said in a statement to News 13. "It must be addressed where each of us live because none of our families are immune from this crisis. Many in our church community are willing to have the courage to address it in our neighborhood."

Mathis said the consensus is that Henderson County needs about a dozen such facilities. Whether folks want them in their neighborhood is a separate question.

"In my opinion, it can’t be isolated to a particular area of the county," Mathis said. "It must be addressed where each of us live because none of our families are immune from this crisis. Many in our church community are willing to have the courage to address it in our neighborhood. At some point, someone has to step forward and do something."

According to Mathis, 99 percent of church members voted to move forward with the project. Meanwhile, people like Leona McCarroll worry about the impact.

"You know, I'm in here working at 9 at night and I go to go to my car, it's scary," she said.

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