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CROW WING COUNTY BOARD: No detox services in county for three months

Crow Wing County will be without detoxification services for about three months. 

The news comes after 18 months of work to find a new location for the detox center. Beth Wilms, Community Services director, said officials of the detox provider, Dakota County Receiving Center in Hastings, indicated they were going to find a place to lease but recently reported they had not found located a place to rent and beginning June 1 will no longer provide detox services for the county. 

Wilms said there are five vendors who have expressed interest but with a process of requesting proposals and reviewing ones received it will be Sept. 1 before a new vendor will be able to start. 

In the interim, Wilms said the county will be able to use the detox center in Nevis. 

“My hope is that there will be someone who will have a start date by Sept. 1,” Wilms said. 

The trip to the facility in Nevis, about 70 miles from Brainerd, and ties up deputies for transport. 

“We’ve done Nevis and it is arduous,” Commissioner Rachel Reabe Nystrom said. 

Sheriff Todd Dahl said after several months of effort it’s frustrating for the county and they will have to look for alternatives to take people this summer. Commissioners asked why the search for another provider is coming so late in the process. Wilms said the county was under the impression the current detox provider would find a place to lease. 

The detox center used the former jail annex at the Brainerd Regional Human Services Center campus off Highway 18 in southeast Brainerd. 

The county acquired the building, also known as Building 9, for $1 in 1999 at a time when it was faced with jail overcrowding. In April 2010, the county board voted to convey the former jail annex back to the state as of Sept. 1, 2010. 

When the state decided to decertify its central heat plant and electrical supply at the BRHSC, the county said the change could mean spending $1 million to provide heat and electricity to the annex building. 

Work then went into getting an extension for the detox facility at the BRHSC to allow the provider to find an alternate location. And the county was working with Dakota County Receiving Center to look at potential alternate locations. 

At the time, noting favorable conditions for competitive rent, the county noted there should be options for detox to find another space even with its specific needs. 

In a separate but related item, Wilms received board approval to provide a statement of support for a vendor who wants to establish a medication assisted treatment center. Two onsite physicians certified to provide the treatment are necessary for the center. A vendor interested in opening a Methadone clinic approached the county. Wilms said there is support from the five area counties — including Cass, Crow Wing, Morrison, Todd and Wadena as well as Aitkin and from the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. 

“There is a huge opiate problem,” Wilms said, noting that includes heroin, oxycodone, Vicodin and Percocet. “Opiate use is the highest growing addiction in the United States at this point in time.”

Wilms said the service directors for the five area counties, plus Aitkin and the Mille Lacs Band, feel strongly they will be able to provide referrals to support a center. The letter of support will go to the Minnesota Department of Health. There are clinics in St. Cloud, Duluth, Winona and Rochester. 

Wilms said there are children as young as 12 who have become opiate addicts and the addiction goes across socio-economic lines. 

RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at or 855-5852.