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Neighbors are concerned about the Salvation Army moving into the former Valley Crest Nursing Home site in Plains Township. On Friday, Salvation Army spokesman Tim Raines said some of the concerns the residents have about the site are not valid.

Salvation Army vows to be ‘good neighbor’ with proposed rehab center

By Bob Kalinowski (Staff Writer)

The Salvation Army’s proposed drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in Plains Township is part of the “solution” to the area’s addiction crisis and would be a good neighbor to the dozens of families who live nearby, a spokesman for the organization said Friday.

A day after neighbors vowed to fight the proposed center at the former Valley Crest Nursing Home site, Salvation Army spokesman Tim Raines tried to assuage their fears and address what he believes are misconceptions about such facilities.

“I understand them, but I don’t think they are valid concerns,” Raines said. “People aren’t going to show up at our front door drunk and high.”

Those enrolling in the program usually do so on referrals and those participating have shown they want to kick the habit, he said.

Suggestions by neighbors that participants have the luxury to freely “roam” around the neighborhood are not true, he said.

Their days are structured with programs from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and they have to sign out whenever they want to leave the facility, such as to go to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, he said.

Raines said the facilities aren’t the scary, violent place that people insinuate. His parents were Salvation Army officials and he was often with them at work while growing up, watching people transform their lives and become sober for years.

“I was sort of raised running round rehabilitation centers from the time I could walk. I’m well-acquainted with the people who come to our program and whose lives are changed. It’s a great thing to watch,” Raines said.

The Salvation Army is seeking to shutter its adult rehabilitation centers in Wilkes-Barre and Scranton to consolidate operations at the county-owned former Valley Crest site.

Dozens of residential homes abut the 62-acre property, and several townhouse developments are nearby. Neighbors say their community is quiet and off the beaten path, and would be endangered by bringing 175 addicts just feet from their property lines. They say some of those addicts will walk out of the program, leaving the potential for property damage, burglaries or violent crime.

Salvation Army officials counter by saying untreated addicts are already walking the streets,

“The main reason for being in the area is the need. We are there to be a part of the solution,” Raines said. “The problem already exists in our backyards. It’s already there. I’d be willing to bet the problem already exists unless that neighborhood is an unbelievable anomaly,”

Warren Ruda / The Citizens’ Voice

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