Mental health center in Warren gets funding

Published 3:17 pm Friday, March 29, 2024

By JACK DOBBS, Bowling Green Daily News

State funding to the tune of $20 million for a regional mental health center in Bowling Green was secured late Thursday night following approval of House Bill 1 in the Kentucky House of Representatives.

Sue Parrigin, a member of the Bowling Green City Commission and the chair of the Barren River Area Crisis Services Transformation Committee pushing the project, said she is “excited and relieved” funding was included.

“I’m very excited about what the future is going to bring for our community with this,” Parrigin said. “This is proactively trying to get in front of a problem that’s going to grow as (Bowling Green) grows. This is huge across the 10-county area, so every one of those folks gets a ‘W’ here.”

The facility would provide assistance to those in all 10 counties within the Barren River Area Development District.

In a February press conference, Parrigin said the facility would “most often” allow those in a mental health crisis to bypass criminal and judicial procedures along with hospital emergency rooms.

The facility would allow law enforcement officers responding to a person experiencing a mental health issue to take individuals directly to the center for treatment.

HB1 allocates $20 million across the next two years. The total cost of the project sits at an estimated $23 million. Parrigin said the City of Bowling Green has pledged $1 million toward the cost.

BRADD will hold at least four public meetings where citizens can provide input on the use of the funds, including construction uses.

BRADD will report each year on the number of people served, community partners, location of provided services and any capital constructions projects.

Parrigin said the project will “move quickly to design.” The facility will be modeled after a crisis center in Nashville, which she said will help speed up the process.

“I think we pretty much know what we want, so it’ll be the design phase and then” construction, Parrigin said.

She said no alterations in the proposal for the project were needed to get the allocation.

Bowling Green Mayor Todd Alcott said he was “elated” at the allocation.

“We had nothing yesterday and as of last night, we have $20 million toward this effort. I’m ecstatic,” Alcott said Friday.

Alcott said funding through nationwide opioid settlements will be used to fund operation of the facility and possibly some of the construction costs.

Alcott said the city originally asked for the full price and expected to get an amount “in the low millions.”

He said the line item for the allocation was added by Sen. Mike Wilson, R-Bowling Green. Out of 455 requests filed, funding for the Anchor Project was the very last one.

“Todd, we are trying to get it in the budget but it’s a late request on top of 454 other requests,” Wilson said to Alcott in a text message. “I’ll do my best in fighting for it, but there are no guarantees. So pray, please!!”

In a news release on Friday, Alcott praised the work of Parrigin, members of the committee and local and regional state lawmakers for securing funding.

“Our goal is to create a best practice for the commonwealth in addressing the mental health and substance abuse crisis plaguing our state, overcrowding our jails, and contributing to the growing cycle of homelessness,” Alcott said in the release. “I want to thank our local delegation in the Kentucky General Assembly … for their tireless effort and unwavering commitment to addressing this crisis.”