County Planning Commission hosts Stonewater expansion discussion amid community safety concerns – The Oxford Eagle
The Lafayette County Planning Commission filed a discussion on the Stonewater Adolescent Recovery Center expansion application after several community members raised concerns about patients leaving the facility and wandering onto private property.
Stonewater is one of the premier young adult addiction treatment centers in the Southeast, providing care and support for teens struggling with drug or alcohol addiction.
Residents of the community, however, are concerned about the number of patients leaving the facility without permission, citing concerns for their safety and that of patients leaving the facility and wandering through the woods or on MS Highway 6.
“Our property joins [theirs] back to back. I have a four year old grandson there, and every time one of them escapes I have to fear for him and for my safety as he and I are usually alone there said one resident.
“We welcomed them with open arms because we heard the wonderful things they could do,” said Charles Waller, another local resident. “I believe in treatment programs, but I’ve been teaching for 30 years and if I lost 10% of my students, I wouldn’t be here. You don’t lose your students.
Stonewater refers to cases of patients leaving the property as “runaways” and cites the declining number of runaways as a reason for granting their expansion request.
“As our count has increased over the past three years…our runaways have decreased significantly,” said Bryan Fikes, founder and CEO of the recovery center. “Since 2019 they’ve gone down 76%…and I have no reason to believe those numbers won’t continue to go down.”
Commissioners welcomed the drop in the number of runaways, but also raised concerns for public safety and the safety of patients fleeing the facility.
“What’s it going to take for one of these kids wandering down the highway to make everyone okay, we need a change,” Commissioner Jason Kent said. .
After much deliberation, commissioners postponed discussion until next month’s meeting, asking Stonewater to consider building a fence around their property or creating an emergency alert system for residents when a patient runs away.
The next scheduled committee meeting is Monday, March 28.