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July 05th, 2020

city meeting veronicaVeronica Torres speaks to the Liberal City Commission Tuesday afternoon regarding the placement of a Haven House facility near her neighborhood in Liberal. People for and against the facility were present at Tuesday afternoon’s meeting. L&T photo/Elly GrimmELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times


Addiction is a problem faced by many people and as time goes on, many treatment centers are opening up to help those with addiction issues. 

Tuesday afternoon, the Liberal City Commission heard from several people in the community regarding the pros and cons of the current zoning of another such facility preparing to come into operation. 

First to speak was Veronica Torres, who shared some concerns regarding the location of the proposed facility. 

“The reason I’m here is while we’re not against having a Haven House facility in Liberal, I’m concerned about it being in a residential area, it’s actually very close to my home,” Torres said. “The reason I’m against where it is right now is because I have underage children and I have to leave them every day at 5 a.m. to go to work and as I understand, this place is a rehab center and halfway house, which I don’t feel really belongs in a residential area. And since people go to those types of places by a judge’s order, that’s somewhat sketchy to me because of potential issues with drugs and alcohol. Another reason I’m concerned about this is because this place will devalue my house if I sell it someday – my house is fully paid off and it took me 15 years to do that, and I don’t want it devalued by having a rehab center almost right next door. Again, it’s not that I object to these types of facilities, I know many of them do a lot of good, but something like that just doesn’t belong in a residential area in my opinion. Something else I’m concerned about is there will be a bunch of different people going in and out of that building day after day, and that concerns me as far as what my kids will see. I’ve heard the place is supposed to be safe and will have cameras and a lot of supervision, but I’ve also heard some conflicting information on how that all will work out, so I’m very concerned.”

The citizens’ comments on this matter continued with Haley Dalton. 

“I actually wouldn’t be here today if not for a Haven House facility,” Dalton said. “All it takes is for one hand to reach out and lead someone in need toward the light so they can have a better life. I actually started at City on a Hill and without their help and without the opportunity through these facilities to better ourselves, life for me would be way different. I’m better and healthier than I was yesterday and healthier than I was only a few weeks ago. My faith has grown so much and I have a purpose in life that I’m living now, it’s such a big difference. God says to love your neighbor as yourself with compassion and care. Not every addict is a criminal, not every addict is a bad person. There’s such a big chance for people for change, and I embrace that in myself today, and I love living in that change. Everyone deserves a chance and if you give that person that chance, the world is so much better.”

Citizen Amanda Hollerman then spoke to the commission. 

“My daughter’s father is actually at Oxford House as well, he’s been off the meth for about three years and he couldn’t have made that milestone without that help,” Hollerman said. “Addiction does not discriminate, it doesn’t care who you are – one day, it could affect your daughter, son, brother, uncle or someone else you care about. These people are all around us and all of us have an addiction of some type. Facilities like this are needed because addiction is such a massive problem and these people desperately need help breaking free from it. They’re not all bad people, they’re just looking for a chance to heal and get better, and these places help change lives.”

Citizen Brianna Saldaña then spoke to the commission. 

“I would want to start by somewhat repeating what Veronica was saying earlier, I don’t think anyone has an objection to the facility itself, I would think the issue is where it’s located, I don’t think that’s the best spot,” Saldaña said. “I know this place isn’t officially open yet, but I’ve also heard some conflicting information about how everything will be run at the house and how many people will be in the house and things like that. I’ve been in contact with a few different people and I haven’t yet gotten a complete and straight answer about all of that, so that’s definitely concerning.”

City on a Hill Executive Director Chris Lund also talked to the commission. 

“For the last few years, we’ve been working on helping determine what some of the needs in Liberal are, and one of the needs is facilities like this to help with addiction,” Lund said. “We’ve been working with some other entities to bring another facility like ours to Liberal to help with the need, and we’re more than ready to address that. This place is designed to help people who, after they’ve completed treatment, need somewhere to go for a little bit to start getting their lives together again, these men are serious about their sobriety and making sure they succeed. We’re looking forward to this facility opening up and helping the patients in whatever way we can.”

Liberal Vice Mayor Taylor Harden then read a letter from Ronda Salazar, who was unable to attend the meeting in person. 

“When the Haven-Oxford House was brought to my attention by my neighbors, I went over to the house at 538 W. Pine and spoke to Chris Lund regarding my concerns,” Harden read. “Chris and I discussed the concerns of me and my neighbors, and he said there should be no concerns and the residents would be drug tested every day, and there would be constant surveillance inside the home. I was told a person had to be two years sober to qualify for Haven House, but then Chris told me residents could be sent straight there after completing the City on a Hill program. We also discussed the location and how the zoning in that area is for single-family homes and my concerns with that. There has been mixed information about this place. We know the Haven-Oxford House is something needed in Liberal, but we also believe rules and regulations are to be followed by everyone, not just those who have money or money backing them.”

In other business, the commission unanimously accepted the donation of a Smith Prop-Jet (appraised at $155,800) to the Mid-America Air Museum from Mike Smith of Johnson. The commission also accepted a CDBG-CV Grant from the Kansas Department of Commerce in the amount of $132,000, and granted the Liberal Police Department’s request for the purchase of SRO Response Kits and First Aid Kits for a total cost of $6,845.50.

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