When Cherokee County citizens arrive in quantity at the state capitol on Jan. 25, a primary objective will be promoting more extensive use of the Cherokee Mental Health Institute campus for state programs.
The Civil Commitment Unit for Sexual Offenders (CCUSO) at the MHI campus resulted from such a lobbying effort. According to Rick Forkenbrock, director of support services at MHI, CCUSO started out with a $1.4 million annual payroll, is currently at $3.53 million and will be at $4 million by October of 2006.
Forkenbrock, along with Mark Buschkamp, executive director of the Cherokee Area Economic Development Corporation, appeared at the Cherokee County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday. Besides discussing a planned expansion of Plymouth Life at the MHI (reported in the Wednesday Chronicle Times), Buschkamp requested authorization to secure a bus for the Jan. 25 trip and both Forkenbrock and Buschkamp talked about the objectives for increased use of the MHI campus.
Although minor technical reasons prevented the use of the Voldeng building for the expanded Plymouth Life facility, it would still provide excellent housing for minimum security inmates from Rockwell City, according to Forkenbrock.
The Voldeng building formerly housed the Boys and Girls Home.
Currently, the state, the county, the city of Cherokee and other public entities use the labor of minimum security inmates who are bussed from Rockwell City four times a week. If Cherokee became a satellite location for the Rockwell City prison, local entities could more efficiently use the inmate labor.
Also inmates could be bussed from Cherokee to locations beyond the practical range for bussing from Rockwell City. Cherokee is on the edge of that range. There would be correctional jobs added in Cherokee and more use of the support staff at MHI.
Another potential use of the MHI campus would be a dual diagnosis facility with social detox, although this would be a multi-county rather than a state initiative. This would expand on the service provided by the Synergy Center, a substance abuse program at the MHI campus.
Dual-diagnosis patients having mental health issues beyond the substance abuse. Detox involves medical supervision of a person coming off of an addictive substance, with more intensive care available nearby for those who develop serious medical problems in withdrawal.