Benton County Commissioners closed on the deal to secure the old Kennewick General Hospital location for the Tri-Cities' first mental health/addiction center around a month ago and the project is already off to a rocky start.

According to County Commissioner Jerome Delvin, "we've had a lot of people breaking windows, breaking in the doors, cutting pipes and such. We just took that building over less than a month ago and so this has just happened within the last several weeks."

Specifically, the old hospital has seen $12,000 in flood damage from cut water pipes, 15 broken windows, 5 broken doors and destruction of numerous fixtures. Because of this, Commissioners have decided to declare a state of emergency at the location.

The declaration means the county can bypass competitive bidding measures and get more, comprehensive security onsite as they work to convert the old hospital into a treatment center.

"We'll have a presence there, maybe 24/7. At least at night time [we'd have an] actual person on site." Says Delvin. Adding, " we need to act now on that on the building."

However, many in the community are wondering why the County Commissioner's didn't see the problem coming, being that the old KGH is located in a rougher part of the Tri-Cities, combined with the fact that the community is seeing a spike in homelessness, violent crime and vandalism in the past couple years.

Nonetheless, the County Commissioner's plan to move ahead full steam on the project and put this rocky start behind them.

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