Ketchikan council supports proposal for Akeela’s sobering center

The Ketchikan City Council agreed unanimously Monday to support Akeela-Gateway’s application for a state grant to develop a sobering center at Ketchikan’s former state-run juvenile detention center.

The state recently shut the center down in response to budget cuts, and the facility reverted to the City of Ketchikan.

The city asked for proposals from community groups interested in using the building, and Akeela was the only one that submitted.

Akeela’s Joel Jackson said the community very much needs a place where people under the influence of alcohol or drugs can safely sleep it off, and then be steered toward treatment, which Akeela offers in a separate facility.

The grant and the building are two opportunities that aligned at just the right time, he said.

“So, we have a facility that’s zoned correctly that’s available, and we had a grant proposal that came out the second of November, allowing us to ask for money to provide a service that fits into our continuum of care,” he said.

The state grant would provide $1 million a year for three years.

The state will announce the award in early January, Jackson said, and the recipient would have until July to start providing services. There are some minor revisions that would be needed at the facility, he said.

Part of the motion that the Council approved states that the building would be provided to Akeela at no cost for the three-year grant period. Some Council members wanted to make sure the city wouldn’t be on the hook for major maintenance costs during that time, as long as the building is in good condition at the start of the three-year lease.

City Manager Karl Amylon said if Akeela is successful in obtaining the grant, then a detailed lease agreement will come back to the council for review and approval.

Also Monday, the Council approved a motion to authorize the city’s Museum Department to move forward with development of a permanent exhibit, which will go in the Centennial Building. Another motion authorizing up to $70,000 to clean, treat and repair the Chief Johnson totem pole also was approved.

Monday’s Council meeting was rescheduled from its regular Thursday meeting day.

The next City Council meeting is a special budget meeting, set for 7 p.m. Nov. 28.

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