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Members of the Mingo County Housing Authority's Board of Directors met during a regular meeting on Monday. Belinda Harness, executive director, announced progress on a rehab facility in Williamson. Travis Crum/Williamson Daily News

WILLIAMSON - Twenty men will move into a new drug rehabilitation center inside the former Sycamore Inn building by Feb. 22, the executive director of the Mingo County Housing Authority said Monday.

After that, 20 women will move into the upstairs of the former hotel to officially create Serenity Pointe, a long-term living facility for recovering addicts.

The facility has been in the works since 2016 as the Housing Authority sought a private loan to purchase the hotel. However, the loan search has proven unfruitful so the Housing Authority decided to sign a 15-year lease with the owner of the former hotel, said executive director Belinda Harness.

Harness made the announcement during a meeting with her board of directors in Delbarton on Monday.

The Williamson Daily News has filed a Freedom of Information Act Request seeking the terms and condition of the 15-year lease the Housing Authority signed with Doyle Van Meter, owner of the former hotel.

The Housing Authority's Multi-Family Division selected the 40 people to move into the facility, she said. They were approved through a waiting list created in late November.

As of now, the Housing Authority has applied for a grant to fund hiring a full-time addiction counselor. The grant recipients will be announced in March, she said.

"Everything should be in place," Harness said. "We purchased everything to rehab the first floor and it is almost finished. It should be done in the next week and a half."

Maintenance crews would then complete work on the upstairs of the hotel and also secure the the former hotel lobby, which will serve as the locked entrance to the facility.

Harness said Serenity Pointe has also received its business license from Williamson and there will be an official open house event on Feb. 22.

The residents referred to the facility will have completed a detox program and be drug free for some time before moving in. The facility would extend the former addicts' recovery beyond the 10 to 28 day programs typically offered in the region, Harness has said.

The facility's creation has been in talks since early 2016 with public forums and open discussions during Williamson City Council and Mingo County Commission meetings. The hotel closed in March 2017, when the Housing Authority began leasing it. It has been for sale for several years.

Also during the meeting, Harness said the Housing Authority would seek a grant to purchase the former Matewan High School building, which closed in 2011 after a consolidation. The goal would be to turn the building into a teen home for juveniles in state custody, she said.

Housing Authority members now have to refer these teens to Huntington or Charleston, moving them away from their friends. The proposed home would keep the teens in Mingo County where they want to be, she said.

The Mingo County Housing Authority's Board of Directors is made of Mitchell Bias, Erskine Davis, H. Andrew Dillon, Lewis Hall and Gary Thompson. Dillon and Hall were not present at Monday's meeting.

Travis Crum is a reporter for the Williamson Daily News. He may be reached by phone at 304-236-6497.

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