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Ron Warpness

In funding plea, detox center boss recalls previous era

May 17, 2012 - By Emily Etheredge, Staff Writer

Fremont County Alcohol Crisis Center director Lisa Amos asked the Riverton City Council to imagine the city as it was before the crisis center opened 12 years ago.

During the council meeting Tuesday, Amos recalled unpaid city fines, intoxicated citizens panhandling on the streets, and the vandalism committed by intoxicated individuals who had no place to sleep in the winter.

Good record

Amos said there have been changes in the community since the center opened.

"The Riverton Police Department has become a proactive force, money is being saved by not having to transport intoxicated citizens to Lander, intoxicated people no longer crowd the emergency rooms while sobering up, and many people's lives have been saved," Amos said.

Amos said that many who come to the center get clean and sober by working in the community, receiving an education and getting employed.

"The first person to ever graduate from the center is still clean and sober after 12 years," Amos said.

$100K request

She said the center needs more money and is asking the city council to consider giving $100,000 for the 2013 fiscal year.

The center -- which provides services on a 24-hour, seven-day basis -- added five additional crisis beds this year.

"I think you need to ask yourself what kind of price tag you can put on someone's life," Amos said. "We have an incredible staff dedicated to long hours with low pay, and I believe that our request for $100,000 is a bargain to the city."

Mayor Ron Warpness said he was elected to the city council in 2000 when Riverton had just taken on the crisis center, and that it has been a tremendous benefit to the city.

"I think at times we take the center for granted, and we shouldn't," Warpness said. "I know we spend a heck of a lot on our recreation and parks department, and it is very hard to put a dollar value on human lives. There are a lot of people who would be dead now if it weren't for your program."

Warpness said if the city had to arrest each intoxicated individual and transport him or her to Lander it would cost the city a lot more. He said it is Riverton's responsibility to take care of its citizens.

"I think we are just putting a Band-Aid on things, and having followed this very closely with my wife on the board since its inception, I know you have top-quality people working at the center," Warpness said. "I encourage you to keep up the good work."

Amos said the presentation to the council was more of an update, and that she would like members to consider adding additional funding in the future. She also invited anyone interested in touring the center to stop by.

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