Stanly commissioners decide on funding for Gateway of Hope
Published 8:49 am Thursday, September 7, 2023
The Stanly County Board of Commissioners approved with a 6-1 vote a resolution to provide $63,600 of funding to one local substance abuse recovery program.
With Commissioner Peter Asciutto voting against the motion, commissioners approved funding for Gateway of Hope.
The item was tabled from the August commissioners meeting, then by a 4-3 vote of the board. At that meeting, Asciutto asked for the meeting to be tabled until the county’s Health and Human Services Board could review the request.
With the motion approved, Gateway of Hope will receive the funds for recovery housing support.
Asciutto said he had concerns about providing funds to the facility, citing a letter to commissioners from Gateway which said records were not left by the facility’s previous director, Larry Wilkins, who helped create Gateway of Hope and later resigned. He was later arrested on felony charges, including indecent liberties with a child.
Asciutto asked County Manager Andy Lucas if health board staff members had a problem with approving Gateway of Hope. Lucas said they did the last time he spoke to them.
He noted the item was still on the health board’s agenda for its September meeting, adding he could not support the motion to approve the funds.
Commissioner Brandon King said he spoke with Gateway and would be glad to speak with him in closed session about it. King said he would not “air their business,” adding the organization “helps people change their lives. They don’t always do MAT (medication-assisted treatment), but that’s not always the right answer. They’re giving them an opportunity to learn a new lifestyle and they’re teaching lifestyles. They’re teaching a new way of life, instead of just giving them drugs to drug them up to get off another drug.”
Commissioner Trent Hatley, who presented the resolution and moved for its approval, said Gateway has a new director. According to the letter, Paul Wilkins is the director of the facility.
“They have assured me and a lot of other people that they have everything under control,” Hatley said.
After the meeting, Asciutto said, “the opioid funding is very specific. The health department staff had many concerns … they couldn’t show proof of performance from the $65,000 we gave them last year. I know they are restructuring, but I would like to see them go for like a year and come back to us next year, and see what they have done.”