A new organization in Detroit Lakes wants to start a treatment center for women suffering from chemical dependency, mental illness, or both.

Recovery Community Resources, a nonprofit based in Detroit Lakes, has made Becker County a $600,000 offer to buy the former minimum security jail building on Randolph Road in Detroit Lakes.

The center will have inpatient and outpatient services, and the building will be remodeled to create 15 inpatient rooms, said Shelly Petrik of Ada, a licensed drug and alcohol counselor who recently founded Recovery Community Resources.

Petrik served as director of the Compassion House treatment center for men in Detroit Lakes, a position she left in June. In addition to a master’s degree, she has 35 years experience in the field.

“Some women just don’t do well in co-ed facilities,” she said, “and there are no (treatment) places nearby for women only. I wanted to form my own nonprofit and get some interested individuals together.”

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On the new organization’s board of directors are Jamie Isakson of Audubon, Renata Bosek, a Fergus Falls psychologist, Peggy Isakson, a marketing specialist from Audubon, and Lori Brownshield, an advanced practice registered nurse from Fargo. All the nonprofit’s financial records and other data will be open to the public, Petrik said.

At some point, the organization wants to look at creating a larger program to treat women and their children together. “There’s a desperate need in the state for programs for women and children,” she said. “There are only five in the whole state,” none of them in northwest Minnesota, she added.

“When we have families together, that’s when we can make the most impact.”

But the state funding mechanism is heavily skewed against such programs, she said. And as far as that goes, she added, “substance abuse hasn’t been given an increase in eight years.”

Some people might think it’s a mistake to launch a new treatment center in the middle of a pandemic, and “that concerns me as far as fundraising,” she said.

But the truth is that more people than ever are under extreme duress from unemployment, domestic abuse, chemical dependency and mental health problems. “We know there’s a lot of stuff going on behind the scene that will need professional attention,” she said.

The sale is contingent on successful rezoning and conditional use permit requests. The buyers have already started that process with the city, according to Dave Neeson of The Real Estate Company, which is handling the sale for the county. A decision by the city on those zoning requests will be made prior to the Oct. 19 closing date, Neeson told the County Board Tuesday.

The buyers have provided $1,000 earnest money, but the Neeson has asked them to increase that to $10,000, he said. The County Board is also requiring proof of the real estate loan prior to commissioners signing off on the deal.

When the treatment center is up and running, Petrik expects it will employ at least 15 to 20 people. “There's a huge geographic area we’re thinking about covering,” she said. “I’m excited to bring that to Detroit Lakes.”

Recovery Community Resources has set up an account at Midwest Bank in Detroit Lakes to take donations for the project. For more information or to donate, call Petrik at 218-415-1502.