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Grants Pass hopes to open sobering center by January

Local supporters of a proposed sobering center in Grants Pass have set January as their goal for opening the facility.

Grants Pass Public Safety Chief Bill Landis, a driving force in the effort, announced the target date Wednesday during a presentation to the City Council.

Landis provided the update prior to the council's approval of $130,000 to be used toward the cost of land, construction or maintenance of the facility. The money comes from revenue paid to the Department of Public Safety from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.

Landis said the Sobering Center also has raised $140,000 from several other sources.

The proposed center is intended to be a place where intoxicated people can be lodged until they are sober. It is not a comprehensive detox center, although guests will be advised on treatment options.

Supporters already have identified a 4,700-square-foot warehouse on Southwest Foundry Street as a possible location. Landis said the group anticipates obtaining building permits sometime this month in order to start work.

Landis also told the council that a bill in the state Legislature extending civil and criminal immunity protections to sobering facilities similar to the protection afforded detox and treatment centers is making progress.

"I'm more than optimistic this will make it to a vote," Landis said.

The bill originated last session with former Rep. Wally Hicks, now the Josephine County legal counsel, and since has been carried on by Hicks' successor, Carl Wilson, and fellow Rep. Duane Stark.

The estimated annual operational cost is estimated to be $260,000 after start-up costs estimated at $1 million.

Casting the votes were Council President Dan DeYoung and Councilors Dennis Roler, Ken Hannum, Jim Goodwin, Mark Gatlin and Roy Lindsay.

Councilors Lily Morgan and Rick Riker were absent.