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New details for sobriety center pour forth

Wednesday, April 13, 2016 by Caleb Pritchard

It’s nearly last call for the committee working on plans for a sobriety center that could soon operate in downtown Austin. Roger Jefferies, Travis County executive of justice and public safety, told the Commissioners Court on Tuesday that next month, he and his team will present the framework for an interlocal agreement to create the center before a working group of elected officials from both the county and the city of Austin. If all goes well, Jefferies said, both the Commissioners Court and City Council will be briefed soon after. He also indicated that the planners are still eyeing the Medical Examiner’s Office building at 1213 Sabine St. in downtown Austin. That facility will be vacated by summer 2017, and renovations to convert it into the sobriety center could be completed by the following fall. That site remains controversial, however, and commissioners Ron Davis and Gerald Daugherty both raised questions about whether a sobriety center is the best use for such a valuable piece of land in an area of downtown targeted for large-scale redevelopment. For her part, County Judge Sarah Eckhardt once again re-emphasized that the sobriety center will provide services beyond being a place for exuberant tipplers to sleep off a night of excess. “It really is not a drunk tank,” Eckhardt said. “This is a place of treatment and refuge and turning your life around.”

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