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White Horse seeking exception for Ossipee Corner property

Recovery center hoping to open residential treatment facility

Joshua Spaulding image
by Joshua Spaulding
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Sports Editor - Salmon Press Newspapers
September 16, 2020
OSSIPEE — White Horse Recovery has been part of the community in Carroll County for many years, offering help to people needing mental health and substance use disorder assistance and is hoping to go a step further in what services they can provide.

The 501c non-profit behavioral health center offers comprehensive support programs to help adults through their recovery process at locations in Ossipee and Conway.

White Horse is going before the Ossipee Zoning Board of Adjustment on Wednesday, Sept. 22, in hopes of turning an Ossipee Corner property into a residential treatment facility, something that is currently not available in Carroll County.

"What we're trying to do is to open a licensed treatment facility," said White Horse Recovery Chief Executive Officer Mitch Yeaton.

The building, located at 45 Old Granite Rd., formerly served as a law office and will be renovated to make room for 28 beds as well as offices, assuming the zoning board grants a special exception for Article 34.3E-34.2 Institutional Uses (E) group homes.

Yeaton said that the center would house 28 people for 28 to 60 days, depending on the program and would be fully staffed, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"We would be staffed 24-7 with certified recovery workers and licensed clinicians and we'd have administration there," Yeaton said. "We're trying to bring something to the county that does not exist right now.

"We've had people sitting for days or months (for an opening at a treatment center), but it's hard for someone who isn't on Medicaid or doesn't have insurance," Yeaton said, noting that in the past, they've actually had to send people to Florida to find a place for them to go.

Yeaton pointed out that the people who come to White Horse are there because they want to be there and will never not be supervised.

"They want to be there, they're going through a program, they're never not supervised," Yeaton said. "We have a lot of rules and restrictions and we have a zero tolerance policy."

Yeaton noted that when someone comes to White Horse, they give staff a place where they will be going when they get out, so if a person decides a few weeks in that the program is not for them, White Horse will bring them to that location or someone will have to pick them up, meaning nobody is just allowed to walk out the door.

Additionally, the property the company uses now, located on Route 16B in Center Ossipee, is fully video-monitored and the new facility would also have the same monitoring, which Yeaton said has actually helped to stem illegal activity in buildings around their current facilities.

"We don't see a lot of problems, and if we do, we call the police ourselves," Yeaton said.

Outpatient help, as White Horse currently offers, would also be available at the new location but the residential program offers something that is not currently available locally.

Yeaton explained that people come in as part of the 28-30 day program and when they complete that, they have the opportunity to stay for another 28 to 30 days to get more life skills to help get reintegrated into society.

White Horse has recently gone through a rigorous accreditation process at the national level and if they are able to open a residential program, they will have to go through even more licensing processes.

"Everything goes under a microscope," Yeaton said.

White Horse also works to help those in the community, as they were one of the many groups that helped victims of the large apartment fire on Route 16 earlier this year. They also have volunteers working at numerous locations throughout the community.

"We want to be part of the community, we don't want to do anything to hurt the community," Yeaton said. "In North Conway, we've turned out to be good neighbors."

Some concerns have been raised, including traffic, which Yeaton said would be minimal. The current outpatient programs generate little traffic and the residential program would generate almost no traffic, as usually White Horse transports those who need help to and from the facility.

Additionally, Yeaton pointed out that White Horse does not prescribe Medication Assisted Treatment and does not allow violent offenders or sexual offenders.

"We are not set up to do that," he said.

The zoning board will be hearing the case on Wednesday, Sept. 22, at 7 p.m. at the Bub Avery Gymnasium in Town Hall.

Sports Editor Joshua Spaulding can be reached at 279-4516, ext. 155 or josh@salmonpress.news.

Varney Smith
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