BY JOHN FLOWERS
MIDDLEBURY — The Counseling Service of Addison County (CSAC) will carry a lighter financial load in financing two new building projects thanks to $191,000 in federal money recently secured by U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.
Leahy assistant John Goodrow confirmed the federal earmark at a groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday, April 10, in Middlebury’s Catamount Park that drew Gov. James Douglas, CSAC staff and board members, representatives of project contractor Naylor and Breen Builders, and other guests.
Thursday’s groundbreaking was for a new, 18,500-square-foot office building that will house the agency’s developmental services programs and its administrative offices, freeing up all of the smaller building for programs serving children and adolescents.
The project will also include a two-story addition of about 2,400 square feet at the back of CSAC’s downtown office at 89 Main St. The addition will provide more accessible offices, a larger group room, and an elevator to improve access to much of the existing building.
Robert Thorn, executive director of CSAC, said the new structures would carry great symbolic, as well as utilitarian, significance.
“To me, these buildings and projects are going to be a memorial to how much people have had to deal with in their lives, their perseverance and courage,” Thorn said. “It’s great we are going to have these buildings, but it means so much more to me.”
It was in 2005 that CSAC launched a fund-raising campaign to generate $680,000 toward the estimated $4 million price tag for the two projects. The agency recently reached its goal. The remaining projects costs will be covered by a 30-year, $2.9 million bond arranged through the state of Vermont and through additional CSAC funds, some derived from the sale of other property the agency will now no longer need.
The financial news got brighter on Thursday when Goodrow confirmed receipt of the $191,000 federal earmark. David Andrews, director of development and community relations for CSAC, explained the $191,000 must be used to help pay for a new electronic medical records system for the agency. The records system is a required improvement that CSAC had anticipated having to finance independently. But CSAC will instead be able to pump those resources into its $4 million expansion project.
Andrews said the Catamount Park and Main Street projects will provide greatly improved physical access for clients and staff, a better working environment, enhanced energy efficiency, and improved communication and coordination among the agency’s programs. They will also help CSAC better fulfill its mission of providing the highest quality mental health and developmental services to its clients in Addison County.
Douglas, a former CSAC board member and contributor to the agency’s recent fund drive, was pleased to participate in the groundbreaking event.
“The Counseling Service of Addison County has been a source of strength and support for many of our friends and neighbors,” said Douglas. “I’ve made substance abuse treatment, prevention and recovery a priority over the past five years, and partners like CSAC keep (those programs) a success.”