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.

Max Egener can be reached at megener@nrtoday.com and 541-957-4217. Or follow him on Twitter @maxegener.

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City Reporter

Max Egener is the city reporter for The News-Review. He has a master's degree from the University of Oregon, and is an avid skier and backpacker.

(8) comments

bohica13

This sad story is YOUR solution? I don't have one, and neither do YOU. Get off the moral high ground. Shipped WHERE? If honesty is rudeness I'm guilty as sin.

Rise722

There needs to be a place that these people can go to and they have to stay there until they start to realize that being drunk or on drugs is not the answer. Just one night isn't going to help - the same people will probably be there night after night after night....

mynamehere

"the city’s large homeless population..." This is the problem that isn't being fixed. A few weeks back while pulling into the Fred Meyers, there were two homeless people by the street who appeared to be injecting drugs. The homeless/transient population is getting larger and freakier by the month.

bohica13

Well, jail is ONLY a punishment for those who have something to loose by going there. Homeless people don't qualify. They have nothing. Spending thousands of taxpayer's dollars so these drug/alcohol addicted psych cases have a nice bed to sober up in doesn't thrill me, either. Counseling and/or medication is pointless without follow-ups. Frankly, the majority of these people have been ill since childhood, or young adulthood, and will resist efforts to rehab them. It's a TOTAL waste of money. I don't know what will work, but throwing money down the rabbit hole certainly won't. There's little or no return on our investment.

Democrat

I think a detox place is a good idea but what about chronic offenders???

Democrat

We can't throw the baby away with the bath water. You can't condemn the majority because of the few. It's always been the creed to punish everyone for the actions of the few. Our jails don't need to deal with offenders. But chronic offenders don't need a soft bed either...

bohica13

Detox was not listed as a service just referral to rehab services. That's pointless. If they wanted help they would seek that out themselves. If you think you can force people to go into a sobering center, AND refuse to let them leave that opens the door for law suits. I'm sure the ACLU would jump on that in a heartbeat. What "Creed" are you referring to? Offenders are NOT "Everyone!" Maybe YOU need to go to a sobering center.

Democrat

Try being a part of the solution instead of being rude.. I was accosted at Sherms 2 days ago who was almost naked and gibbering. He also had a big club in his hand. I was blessed enough to see him rounding the tail end of my car. He was headed for my open window. This guy was young and higher than a kite..we have a great Rescue Mission but alot of these people don't want to be made to hear the Gospel. Well for those people, they need a place to go. They should be court mandated to stay at these places and shipped out of town if they don't.

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