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Media Articles - 2000s

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16 December 2003
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Work progresses on rehab center: Should be operating before end of year

Battle Creek Enquirer (Battle Creek, MI)
October 30, 2002

BY Chris Springsteen

PENNFIELD TOWNSHIP - A drug rehabilitation center is nearing completion and should be ready for patients before the end of the year.

More than $400,000 has been spent to to renovate the Narconon Stone Hawk Rehabilitation Center on St. Mary's Lake, but one room in particular is the favorite of Executive Director Kate Wickstrom.

"They had plain drywall over the top of all this," she said, while gesturing to the exposed fieldstone walls with cherry wood paneling in the building's main entrance. "We decided to take it back to original. I spent hours trying to figure out what to do with this room, but then I saw pictures of what it looked like in the '60s and after that, it was a no-brainer."

In addition to taking down the drywall in the lobby of the former Neuro-Rehabilitation Center at 216 St. Mary's Lake Road, paisley-print carpeting also was pulled up in favor of gray and brown ceramic tile.

Renovations should be completed in time to begin accepting patients in December and a grand opening tentatively is planned for June, said Wickstrom, whose husband, Per, is the center's president.

While making the lobby more aesthetically pleasing was clearly a labor of love for Wickstrom, many other projects simply were labor intensive.

The building, which has been vacant for about three years, never was winterized and a number of pipes cracked when the water inside froze, Kate Wickstrom said.

"Smith-Hammond (a plumbing contractor in Springfield) has probably had the biggest workload out here," she said. "They've gone through virtually every pipe to find all the cracks."

Work is progressing at a good clip despite the plumbing problems and has not been too difficult, said Rick Phelps, the construction foreman for the Stone Hawk renovations with Battle Creek's Ganka's Construction Co.

"We've run into a lot of plumbing problems, but the building is basically in good shape," Phelps said. "There have been no major surprises. Just little things and those are to be expected."

Nearly every inch of the 58,000-square-foot building is being renovated in one way or another, including the dorm areas for patients, the dining room, an activities room and the basement is being completely updated to house saunas and showers.

The Stone Hawk center will follow a strict regiment of classes, proper eating habits and the use of saunas as laid out by author L. Ron Hubbard in his book "Clear Body, Clear Mind." It will be one of about a dozen Narconon centers in the United States.

Wickstrom plans to get involved in community groups focusing on drug abuse and prevention when the facility opens, she said.

"A whole lot is starting to happen out here," Wickstrom said. "I just want to see how we can work together. I mean, we're all in it for the same thing - to get people off drugs."