Atwood owner, business associates share plans for alcohol, drug rehabilitation center

By Nancy Schaar

FPS Correspondent


DELLROY – William Burns, the new owner of Atwood Resort, and two business associates who will be establishing a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center on the property, outlined their plans for the facility for area residents during a Monroe Township Trustee meeting Feb. 15.

Monroe Twp. meeting Burns RBG

William “Billy” Burns (left) and his business associates Brent Clements (center) and Eric Mitchell outlined plans for Atwood Resort during the Feb. 15 Monroe Twp. trustee meeting. (FPS/Nancy Schaar)

About 60 residents attended the session, held in the township garage, to voice their concerns and question the three businessmen about their plan.

Although Burns purchased the property, Brent Clements and Eric Mitchell will be operating the facility.

“I appreciate everyone having me here tonight.  And we are here to address some of the concerns we have tonight,” said Burns.

Clements is the chief executive officer of Addiction Campuses and operates several similar facilities in other cities and states.

“We have treatment centers in Massachusetts, Tennessee, Texas and Mississippi.  This is what we do. I am 14 years in recovery. I know the challenges these people face and I also see the reward when they become productive citizens. We are here to help. We are excited to be here. I feel like there’s a big calling here. There’s an opportunity to help not only this local community, but the citizens of all Ohio,” said Clements.

Eric Mitchell is the chief marketing officer for Addiction Campuses. Mitchell said he is 17 years clean and has a good life since then. He said their goal is to help people overcome their addictions and have families and be contributing members of society.

County commissioner Bob Wirkner also addressed issues that were brought up at the last township meeting from concerned residents in the area.

“Addictions nationwide are on the rise and it has become an epidemic. The lodge has shown a capacity to lose lots of money. The last quarter it was open it lost about a quarter of a million dollars. That asset was in danger of becoming a liability. We could not let it become a burden to the taxpayers of the county,” said Wirkner.

Resident Becky Giauque asked Wirkner why, when “Burns breached his contract,” was he given four extensions?  Giauque quoted commissioner Jeff Ohler, who, she claimed, said they had other people interested in buying the property.

Wirkner explained, as commissioners said on several occasions in recent months, their attorney and Burns’ attorney said at the first closing date Burns needed a little more time to procure funding.

“It made sense to us to give him that time because we were heading into winter and that wasn’t the best time to market the lodge,” said Wirkner.

Ron Dziedzicki questioned Wirkner about points of auction and contract law, asking why, when Burns defaulted on the first closing date, the back bidder was not awarded the sale?

Wirkner again explained that, upon the advise of their legal counsel and adhering to the Ohio Revised Code, it was in the best interest of the county to continue the contract with Burns.

Dziedzicki argued repeatedly trying to make the point that the auctioneer’s contract with the county and with the buyer of the lodge should all have been done according to the ORC from the beginning.  Dziedzicki expressed his opinion that there should never have been a conflict between the auctioneer’s contract and the ORC.

“The attorney should have made sure that bid protocol was followed.  I believe this was falsely advertised,” said Dziedzicki.  Dziedzicki continued to argue that the bid should have gone to the second highest bidder and Burns should never have been sold the property.

Giauque questioned the three business partners and expressed disbelief that they did not bring copies of their business plans to the meeting to be given to the public.

Burns said that all the details are not in place and Clements and Mitchell said they are still working out details for the facility and that information is not complete yet.

Several people criticized commissioners because Burns’ plans for the facility were not made public. Wirkner responded by saying they weren’t required to tell them what they were going to do.  At the time of the purchase, Burns was not sure what direction development of the property would take.

Commissioner Jeff Ohler stated at other meetings when someone purchases a property, they do not have to make their business plan or financial plans and details available to the general public.

Property owner Mary Ann Featheringham read statistics from other cities, such as Baltimore, where crime has evolved around drug treatment centers and said there is up to an 18 per cent drop in property values.

“It’s just wrong that the law abiding citizens of Monroe Township and the Atwood neighborhood are made up largely of families and young children and retired people are now going to be in this situation. I think it is really wrong and shameful that the people who are supposed to be looking out for us have put us in this situation. These people brought drug crime with them, robbery, prostitution and more to the neighborhoods they were in. The problem is putting a concentration of these people and this is not going to be a lock up facility. It puts Monroe Township in a very dangerous situation and I don’t think you looked out for the best interest of the county,” said Featheringham.

Featheringham continued to express her opinions and stated the $1.3 million the county received, which is earmarked for the Northern Corridor project, should be given to the sheriff because he is going to have to hire many additional deputies to handle all the crime this facility will bring to the township.  Wirkner tried to explain, due to the original agreement with Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District, that would never have ever been an option.

She also criticized Wirkner and Monroe Township Trustee Brian McIntire for speaking and trying to answer questions before the new owners of the property spoke.

Wirkner had already expressed his displeasure and disagreement with residents who attended the last meeting and kept referring to the patients who will be at this facility as “those people”.

“I take offense at the references to “We don’t want THOSE people”, said Wirkner.

Tonda DaRe, who lost her daughter to a heroin overdoes, challenged Featheringham as well.

“Those people”…I am the mother of one of those people. Those people was my daughter.  She started taking heroin and was dead in under four months. We need this facility…Now!” said DaRe.

Clements responded by saying a drop in property values is not true. He stressed the facility will be an asset to the community. Clements said they will employ more than 200 people at the new center. They will include psychiatrists, doctors, therapists, recovery therapists, recovery coaches, nurses, RN’s, LPN’s, a chef, housekeeping, and much more. He noted this will be a project the community benefits from.

“Patients will be here from 30 days to a year. They will receive all levels of care from detox and we will medically detox them at the facility. They will be monitored seven days a week. They are managed. They will be medically detoxed in a controlled environment. We are staffed and they are monitored 24/7”, said Clements.

Throughout the meeting, Wirkner, Clements and Mitchell tried to answer questions about security, and the residents who will be staying at the lodge.  Some members of the audience asked four, five, or more questions at one time and, before the spokesmen could answer even one, another member of the audience would be throwing additional questions out to them.

Clements said the patients at the facility will not be out roaming the streets or the residential area along the lake. Clements said there will not be security issues and they haven’t had security issues at any of their Addiction Campuses.

“Our clients privacy and our clients safety is important to us. They are not running around the facility trying to sneak out,” said Clements.

“All our staff is trained in security issues. We have a safety officer on site. We have all safety issues covered,” said Clements.

Clements explained the patients are brought to the facility by professionals and, when they are released, they are taken home by the same professionals. His facilities turn away more than 5,000 patients a month because they don’t have room. “This facility will be filled and remain filled,” according to Clements. “All patients are expertly screened and treated by medical professionals.”

The facility will be co-ed and house patients 18 years of age or older. The facility was described as a Betty Ford type of treatment center. Daily costs per patient will run between $6,000 to $22,000 per day per patient depending on the type of treatment needed and received.

Burns said they were meeting with Atwood Water & Sewer in order to reach a water agreement to provide services to the new facility.  Burns also said they were scheduled to meet Feb. 16 with Job & Family Services Director Kate Offenberger to discuss the county’s needs.

In addition, the three partners announced they plan to hire local contractors and workers to do the needed remodeling. That process was to begin Feb. 16 as well. The trio said they plan to invest about $5 million in the facility and surrounding property.

Giauque asked Clements what he was going to do when people – tourists, local residents and other – drive up the hill to the lodge to see the view or look around.

“We don’t have a lot of traffic in and out.  There is scheduled visitation with family members but we have very little traffic,” said Mitchell.

McIntire asked if there was any way the township could receive bed tax from the new facility like they did when it was a hotel. Those funds were very important to the township budget, he said.

Clements responded that he wasn’t sure what tax rates would apply to this area but would check it out.

Burns, Clements and Mitchell agreed to meet with the public March 14 at the former lodge with an update on the progress in the facility.

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