11/09/06 — Group home operator proposes second site in Mt. Olive

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Group home operator proposes second site in Mt. Olive

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on November 9, 2006 1:45 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- White Oak Homes will ask the planning board to approve a Hillsboro Street location for an adult day program to serve his group home clients.

Owner Donald Atkinson told the town board during its regular monthly meeting Monday he plans to make the request at the Nov. 14 planning board meeting. This is his second choice for a location to bring the White Oak clients who are being treated for severe and persistent mental illness.

Atkinson said he feels the town has discriminated against him and his clients by denying his request to bring them to the 200 block of Center Street for the program. The center would serve up to 30 clients who would come from several of White Oak's 12 group homes in Wayne and Duplin counties.

The Center Street location proposal drew opposition from neighbors, and the town board tabled the request until Town Attorney Carroll Turner could gather some information.

Atkinson said he had problems with Turner twisting his words and said in the future his lawyer will deal with Turner. Turner denied the claim. "I do not play games," he said.

Turner said the town could proceed with the process if Atkinson would answer his questions.

Mayor Ruff Huggins said he would be willing to hold a joint meeting with the planing board if necessary to resolve the problem.

Atkinson said he will have his lawyer contact Turner.

"The only reason I'm looking at an alternative site is to get my people served," he said.

The problem, he said, is prejudice and discrimination. He described comments he has encountered about his clients such as they are "on medications," they "don't act right" or they are "not like us."

He told the board he will continue pushing until he has found a place for his clients.