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'Our big concern is the placement': Mental health care center stalls in La Grange

While the group met permit requirements, residents took strong opposition to the facility. The mayor advised the city should wait until there is more information.

LA GRANGE, Ky. — Kentucky Mental Health Care (KMHC) plans to bring its services to La Grange, though it met a major roadblock Monday.

Before a presentation to La Grange City Council, a Facebook post referred to the new facility as a methadone clinic

"It was certainly a surprise to us," Mayor John Black said.

While the group met permit requirements, people in attendance took strong opposition to the facility. Black advised the city should wait until there is more information available.

"We had to react," he said. "React quickly, with very little information." 

The majority of neighbors and business owners that WHAS11 spoke with in La Grange said the resource is needed but the location is a problem.

"Our big concern is the placement, "Jason Kinser said. He owns One Nineteen West Main Restaurant.

This new facility would be about a block from the historic main street, inside the old library on Jefferson Street.

Kinser described past experiences with Methadone Clinics, seeing people impacted walk around afterward. He said they look like, "Zombies" and worried they'd ask his customers for money.

KMHC CEO Joe Nally said services for people with opioid dependencies will only comprise less than 10% of their business. 

Nally sent the following statement to WHAS11.

"What’s happening in La Grange is a clear illustration of stigma in action.
Defining those who struggle with mental health issues as “zombies,” “addicts,” or “criminals,” is judgmental, discriminatory, and truly, heartbreaking behavior.
This stigma directly contributes to the crisis-level lack of resources we currently find ourselves in."

Matthew LaRocco, a substance abuse counselor, has referred clients to KMHC facilities in the past and noted positive reviews. 

He also explained why methadone clinics are important.

"It eliminates cravings, additionally, it blocks the effects of using other opioids, and if I use an opioid in addition to that medication I am not going to get high like I used to," LaRocco explained.

That service might still come to LaGrange. But, the mayor says he wants time to learn more.

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