SIDMAN – A new drug and alcohol rehabilitation center is expected to open later this year in the former Forest Hills Middle School in Croyle Township.
The inpatient center will be operated as Allegiance Rehabilitation Center Inc. at the former school, 1427 Frankstown Road, Sidman.
The corporation was formed in March by Amanda Jennings of Hollidaysburg, the Pennsylvania State Department confirmed for The Tribune-Democrat.
“I believe we are going to apply for more than 50 beds, initially,” Jennings said Friday in a telephone interview, noting the capacity will change as operations grow in phases.
Eventually, she expects there will be more than 100 beds.
Jennings is president of Quality Life Services Inc., which operates more than two dozen group homes in Cambria and Indiana counties for those with mental disabilities or mental health problems.
The former school property deed shows Quality Life Services paid Forest Hills School District $570,000 for the property last December.
“I think it is a great location,” she said. “It’s a very nice setting.”
Justin Beyer sees it differently. His Frankstown property adjoins the Allegiance Rehabilitation property.
Although neighbors have received no official notification, Beyer said they have been hearing rumors about an inpatient drug treatment facility for several months.
“It’s a shame that happened in this area,” Beyer said Friday after The Tribune-Democrat told him the rumors were confirmed.
He says he’s worried about safety of his property and children so close to a drug rehab facility.
“Nobody welcomed it,” he said. “We don’t have to like it, but it’s here. I wish there would have been a different opportunity for use of that building.”
Beyer said he will attend an informational meeting scheduled for 5 to 7 p.m. July 18 in the former school’s auditorium.
“I hope there’s a big turnout for the meeting,” he said.
Jennings said Allegiance will address security and other concerns from the community during the July 18 meeting.
“We are going to try to ease everyone’s minds,” she said. “Just because someone is a drug addict doesn’t mean they are a threat.”
When she and her husband, Forest Hills graduate Broc Jennings, saw the building was available, they looked at uses to serve the community. The opioid epidemic seemed to represent on of the region’s major needs.
“We are trying to help the community,” Amanda Jennings said. “A lot of people in Cambria County have been affected by the opioid crisis.”
Allegiance expects work with other agencies and get involved with the warm handoff program through Conemaugh Health System, Jennings said.
“People aren’t getting the treatment they need,” she said. “This is giving people options to get better and turn their life around.”
Justyn Patton, a recovery specialist with Twin Lakes Center in Somerset, agrees that more inpatient detox/treatment facilities are needed in the area.
“There is no question we need more residential beds,” said Patton, who describes himself as a person in long-term recovery. He has been clean and sober for more than four years.
He said a new Cambria County center might better serve those from surrounding areas, freeing up treatment beds in their hometowns for Cambria County residents seeking recovery.
“Best practices says there should be a little distance between your treatment facility and your place of residence,” Patton said on Friday. “Sometimes it could be a short walk home.”