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Ascension Recovery Services to operate Hope Hill Sobering Center

MORGANTOWN — After three unsuccessful attempts at hiring an executive director, the board of directors for the Hope Hill Sobering Center will contract out management of the facility, which should be operational “in the next month or two.”

HHSC Board President Deana Morrow said the board is finalizing a contract with Ascension Recovery Services to run the 5,000-square-foot sobering center located on the ground floor of Hazel’s House of Hope on Scott Avenue.

“Ascension is a highly regarded behavioral health and recovery services organization with roots in West Virginia and programs in more than 25 states nationally,” Morrow said of the company founded in Morgantown by Doug Leech.

Morrow explained the board initially wanted to hire a facility director and build its own team, but it wasn’t to be.

After offering the position to two individuals —  one of whom never agreed to contract terms and one who accepted the role then pulled out before starting — the board hired and approved a contract with an executive director in February. That person resigned in May.  

In addition to day-to-day operations, Ascension will be tasked with program development for the facility, which aims to give law enforcement an option other than jail or local emergency rooms for intoxicated individuals.

 “The sobering center is a place where clients can be kept safe and monitored for the negative effects of intoxication, alcohol poisoning, and drug use effects,” Morrow explained. “Clients will also be connected to community resources including substance abuse treatment, mental health services, recovery programs, and social service supports.”

  Morrow explained the nonprofit center received $290,000 in the previous fiscal year and has $200,000 on the books for 2023 fiscal year.

Asked if individuals must be brought by law enforcement to have access to the facility, Morrow said the board is clarifying access guidelines and expects those to be in place shortly after the management contract is finalized.