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Providers vie to run rehab facility

The island’s first drug treatment center for adolescents — to be located at the site of the old Kauai Humane Society headquarters by Burns Field in Hanapepe — is taking shape, but is more than a year from opening, said Mayor Bryan Baptiste Friday.

During a meeting with reporters in his office at the Lihu’e Civic Center, Baptiste announced county leaders are seeking requests for proposals for the operation of the facility.

“I am very happy that we are moving forward with the adolescent treatment facility,” Baptiste said in a news release. “A lot of people have been working hard on this project over the last two years and we are now beginning to realize the fruits of their labor.”

The facility would enhance and expedite the rehabilitation of island youths who have drug or alcohol problems.

Because no such facility exists here now, island youths for many years have had to be treated at rehabilitation facilities located elsewhere in the state.

With the facility here, their recovery could be quicker and smoother because they would be visited by families, said Baptiste and Roy Nishida, the county’s antidrug coordinator.

Such a facility is sorely needed on Kaua’i, Baptiste said.

“I believe that a lot of youngsters going through rehabilitation need the support of their families to successfully recover,” he said.

Previously, three service providers expressed interest in administering the adolescent treatment facility — Bobby Benson Center, Hale Kipa and Maui Youth and Family Services.

All three service providers have impressive credentials, Nishida said.

“All of them appear to have good reputations for the rehabilitative work they do,” Nishida said, “But they’ll have to go through our formal bidding process to be considered for the job.”

Nishida said the group that wins the contract will need to fulfill certain requirements including developing a culturally-based treatment program, securing licensing for the facility’s program from the state Department of Health, and professionally managing the program and facility for eight males and eight females, ages 12 to 18.

The design of the facility, meanwhile, is almost completed, according to Douglas Haigh, chief of the Building Division with the Kaua’i County Public Works Department.

“There are a few more details to work on before we can put it out to bid,” he said.

The design and architectural work was done by Kaua’i architect Ron Agor, who volunteered his services.

“I have a personal interest in this project because one of my nephews was involved in drugs when he was an adolescent and could have really benefited from a facility like this,” Agor said. “This is my way of helping youngsters who are now facing a similar situation.”

Plans for the project include the renovation of five existing structures that will be converted to an administration building, classrooms, training rooms, housing and a kitchen. A basketball court and a 20-stall parking lot also will be built.

The project is being developed with $1.1 million in federal, state and county dollars, Nishida has said.

Hawai’i’s U.S. senators, Daniel K. Inouye and Daniel K. Akaka, and U.S. representatives Ed Case, D-Neighbor Islands-rural O’ahu and U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-urban O’ahu, successfully lobbied for and secured $390,000 to furnish the new facility.

Those funds were provided after Kaua’i County Council Vice Chair James Tokioka and councilman Daryl Kaneshiro attended a National Association of Counties meeting in Washington D.C. in March last year. While there, Hawai’i’s congressional delegation asked how they could help Kaua’i, according to Nishida.

State Sen. Gary Hooser, D-Kaua’i-Ni’ihau, and state representatives Ezra Kanoho, D-Lihu’e-Koloa, Bertha Kawakami, D-West Kaua’i-Ni’ihau, and Hermina Morita, D-Kapa’a-Hanalei, helped secure $560,000, and council members, supported by Baptiste, appropriated another $365,000 or so for the Hanapepe project.

The deadline to turn in a proposal to operate the facility is April 5, by 2 p.m., to the Division of Purchasing, Department of Finance, 4444 Rice St., Rm. 303, Lihu’e 96766, Attention: RFP No. P0094.

  • Lester Chang, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 225) and lchang@

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