At the Roseburg City Council meeting Monday, Mayor Larry Rich announced the city will hold an executive session on July 17 to discuss next steps in the search for a new city manager.
After the candidate chosen by the city for the job withdrew from the hiring process in April, the City Council suspended the process for two months. At the time, Rich said the delay would give Public Works Director and interim City Manager Nikki Messenger a chance to see if she wants to apply for the job. Messenger has been interim city manager since former City Manager Lance Colley retired at the end of April.
At the meeting, the City Council adopted a fee system for Douglas County students living outside the city to use Roseburg Public Library cards, tabled a resolution to hire a city communications specialist and adopted an ordinance regulating secondhand property dealers.
Councilors also approved an annual $50,000 commitment to help establish a sobering center in Roseburg. The money is contingent on partners finding additional funding for the project.
The center’s goal would be to provide a holding space for people who are publicly disruptive due to excessive intoxication, Roseburg Police Chief Gary Klopfenstein told councilors. The department frequently addresses such situations, but charging people with disorderly conduct and taking them to jail isn’t always the right action, he said. Members of the city’s large homeless population are often charged with disorderly conduct.
The center would also provide counseling and refer people to addiction treatment services, and it would reduce overcrowding in jails and allow law enforcement to focus on more serious issues, Klopfenstein said.
Behavioral health and addiction treatment organization Adapt has been working with Douglas County’s Local Public Safety Coordinating Council to establish the center for years, said Adapt CEO Gregory Brigham at the meeting. The organizations recently identified a location for the center at 3005 NE Diamond Lake Blvd. They have a temporary contract that will allow them to purchase the building if full funding is secured.
Modeling services off a sobering center in Grants Pass, Adapt estimates the annual cost for the center would be $356,000. Adapt has committed $56,000 annually for the project and Umpqua Health Alliance has agreed to provide $100,000 for the first year, leaving $200,000 for local governments and other agencies to fill. Brigham said Umpqua Health Alliance also tentatively committed $100,000 for the second year contingent on a 150% funding match from another entity.
The city allocated $50,000 to the police department’s jail fund during a previous budget cycle with the expectation that it would be used for a future sobering center, Messenger said.
Initially, the center would operate six beds with the expectation of growing to 12. People would typically stay at the center for four to eight hours, according to City Council meeting documents, but the center could hold people up to 24 hours. One staff member would be on site during all hours of operation, and additional services would be provided through community partners and Adapt’s outpatient services and rapid access departments.
“This is very exciting,” said City Councilor Brian Prawitz. “I think this answers some of the things we’ve been talking about with the cost to the city. In my opinion, this is a much better investment than jail beds.”
The center wouldn’t be run by law enforcement, but the police would take people there. Center staff would detain people until they are deemed fit for release.
City Councilor Linda Fisher-Fowler asked Klopfenstein whether the person being taken to the center has to agree to go.
“It would not matter if they agree or not,” Klopfenstein said. “It’s not an option.”
The motion passed 5-1 with city councilors Tom Ryan and Bob Cotterell absent from the meeting and City Councilor Ashley Hicks voting no.
Hicks doubted whether the project’s partners could secure full funding and questioned whether the center would help the community.
“I do not support any detox facility or sobriety center,” Hicks said. “I support people that are doing criminal acts and disorderly conduct and disrupting the civility of the community to go to jail.”
Rich said potential partners for such projects often wait for the city to commit first before they too allocate funds.
“Let’s get out there and let them figure out if they can come up with $350,000 every year and get this thing going,” he said.