New Harrisburg treatment center causes controversy

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HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Pennsylvania Counseling Services cut the ribbon for their new treatment center Tuesday. The center is the first of its kind in Harrisburg. It offers mental health counseling, addiction treatment and positive parenting programs.

TheĀ  center is on the main floor of the former Shimmell School in the Allison Hill neighborhood. Dauphin County Commissioner George Hartwick said the center is beneficial to the community.

"I think this is a first step to really making the former Shimmell School an area that was not necessarily," Hartwick said. "It had some negative connotations based upon the way the school was positioned. Now turning it into really a lighthouse."

Pennsylvania Counseling Services created the center so everyone can have the opportunity to get the help they need.

Leah Hannah of PCS said, "The end goal is to help the community heal, and to provide quality services, and to help everyone on their journey as they move forward."

But not everyone in the community is happy about the center's location.

Michelle Blade, a protester, said, "We have people out here with ankle bracelets. The CAT bus comes down our street now. Cars come out and go the wrong way every day. Patients park on our street every day because they're not informed how to get into the lot."

Protesters are concerned about the children's safety who live in the neighborhood.

"Children come through here. Hundreds of children every month," she said. "And we would loan out toys for them to play, and have games going on here, and we utilized the park. Children used to play Red Rover over there. It was a normal, nice place during the day."

Now Blade said the center has done more harm than good.

"Our children need help now," she said. "These are children who don't have anything and what little they had was taken from them."

The commissioner said although some people are opposed to the center, the people who live in the community deserve to get treatment.

"I think today's investment and opportunity to provide services, cooperation with law enforcement, and the ability to build community in the economic development that happened here," Hartwick said. "I think it's a strong sign that Central Allison Hill is on its way back."

The commissioner said in the future he hopes the center can collaborate with Hamilton Health Center. He wants the next step of the center to be after-school opportunities and have law enforcement present.



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