Latrobe Street Mission considering public intoxication shelter

PARKERSBURG – Representatives of the Latrobe Street Mission are exploring the possibility of taking over the public intoxication shelter services after Westbrook Health Services announced it would no longer operate the facility at its Amity Center.

Wood County commissioners have asked mission officials if they would consider taking over the shelter for inebrients picked up by police at the Latrobe Street location after learning Westbrook would not be reapplying for the grant funding for the PI shelter.

The current grant ends at the end of December. Westbrook officials said earlier the agency is no longer eligible under new grant requirements for the PI shelter, and due to safety, security and other concerns the agency no longer wishes to operate the shelter.

The grant was for more than $100,000. Last year the shelter served 358 residents, according to officials.

Westbrook will continue operating Amity Center’s medical detoxification and residential treatment program for adults, which is a 28-day program. The PI shelter provided a temporary, safe shelter for individuals arrested for public intoxication or for being under the influence of drugs, allowing them time to “sober up.”

“We had a good program with Westbrook, but now they have decided to pull out,” commission President Wayne Dunn told the mission officials, including executive director Shad Martin, Jason Batten, director of operations, and Greg Smith, with the advisory board for the mission.

“We would not be opposed to it, we would need to look at our building and see what changes would need to be made to accommodate the program, and we are already working on treatment programs, we hope to begin that in February or March. It would just be the logistics, we would need to set up a separate area,” Martin said.

Smith noted the Latrobe Street homeless shelter has served individuals from six counties.

“We are housing 75-77 people a night. We would have to consider the workload, administrative costs, facilities costs,” he said of the PI shelter.

“In addition to the logistics involved with the building itself, we would need to add on-call staff,” Martin said.

“We are certainly willing to consider it, the board meets next week and I can propose it to them at that time, and they can discuss the facilities, and finances,” Martin said. “It all fits together with our existing programs and we are excited about the possibilities.”

“I would support you to see this happen. You would be an answer to a prayer because we didn’t know what we were going to do. This could be the answer,” Commissioner Steve Gainer told Martin.

The commissioners said they would like to meet again in about 30 days to check the status of the proposal with the mission.

Dennie Huggins, with the Community Corrections Day Report Center, was also asked to attend Monday’s meeting.

“We just don’t have the facilities, we have no room available to house a PI shelter. There are also safety issues and security would be a major problem for us. I don’t think it would be a good fit with us,” Huggins said of his downtown Parkersburg location.

The commissioners scheduled a status meeting on their Feb. 3 agenda for the continued discussion.