Round 2: Hale Foundation leaders hope changes will allow Hale House proposal to go forward

Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020
News 12 at 6 O’Clock/NBC at 7

Residents in Green Meadow are vocal in their disapproval of the creation of a rehab facility for first responders. (Source: WRDW)

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- Chances are you know someone with substance abuse problem, and sometimes the people fighting addiction are the first responders themselves.

There's a plan to open the Hale House Rehab Center for first responders, but some neighbors are not happy about it.

It’s still an ongoing debate. The plan was declined the first time, but now the Hale Foundation is presenting the idea again.

It’s a story many first responders can relate to.

“There has been officers that never used, but they resort to drugs or alcohol or other things like that,” Deputy Chad Pluger said.

Pluger remembers what he went through after a shootout back in 2009.

“Even when something happens to you, even though you train daily for it, doesn't mean it doesn't affect us,” Pluger said.

People living in Green Meadow say they agree there's an issue, but still have concerns with the facility being in their community.

“Yeah, they could have put it down on there to the jail house,” resident Catherine White said.

This building has been vacant for two years. But the president of the Hale House Foundation says the property was bought and donated to them as a gift.

“It was a gift, and the gift was that we use it for a substance abuse treatment center,” Cliff Richards, president of the Hale Foundation, said. “That was one of the wishes of our benefactor.”

Richards says the facility will be secured and fenced, and there will be a new entrance to avoid going through green meadow subdivision.

“Ninety percent of these people that will come will actually still be employed,” Richards said.

But neighbors are worried about losing property value.

Richmond County's appraiser says there's no way to know whether property values will go down, but if the project gets approval, they'll be re-evaluating after 6 months.

Hale House representatives say there will be a screening process to make sure the people who come there for help are first responders.

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