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Sunday, October 20, 2013

Part 1-Do The "Wright" Thing: Per Wickstrom Bites The Big Dog In Marne-"No Special Land Use Permit For You, Sir!" And Somebody Used The "N" Word...Narconon!

Could you say "no!" to Per Wickstrom? Wright Township just did, joining Petoskey, Pennfield Township and Bridgewater Township in doing the "Wright" thing by denying requests made here in Michigan by TIA Corporation to open or expand Wickstrom drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities.
The Wright Township Planning Commission held a meeting on June 17 to review a Special Land Use (SLU) permit application made by Per Wickstrom on behalf of his proposed Best Choice Rehabilitation location, 15140 16th Avenue in Marne, Michigan. 
[NOTE: The official minutes refer to the facility as "BDR".]

In denying Wickstrom’s request after reviewing “findings of fact” during its July 15 meeting, the Planning Commission's official minutes stated the facility was “in conflict with the character of the community”. In addition, the Planning Commission determined that the special use permit requested was "not consistent with the Township’s Master Plan". 

Wickstrom’s attorneys have filed a complaint in Ottawa County Circuit court, seeking to overturn Wright Township’s decision. Wickstrom’s claim disputes an interpretation made in May by the Wright Township Zoning Administrator, who determined that the intended use was subject to special land use approval and referred the request to the Planning Commission. 

In making their decision, the Planning Commission reviewed Chapter 10 of the Wright Township Zoning Ordinance, specifically Section 1003(d), and Chapter 2, Section 200 (definition of housing for the elderly, retired and those requiring assisted care). 

After discussion during the July meeting, the Commission agreed with the Township Zoning Administrator’s interpretation that the intended use was subject to special land use approval. 

In the first of a two-part story, Miss Fortune looks at Per Wickstrom’s snow job—I mean presentation—at Wright Township's June 17 Planning Commission meeting.


On August 15, 2012, one of Per Wickstrom’s shell companies (Best Drug Rehabilitation Holdings, Inc.) purchased a former assisted living center located at 15140 16th Avenue in Marne. Wickstrom has dubbed the facility 'Best Choice Rehabilitation', and is seeking the SLU permit required to open the Marne building as a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility.

Tom King, an attorney for Best Drug Rehabilitation (BDR), explained to those assembled in Wright Township that since the property was previously used as a senior citizens’ facility, BDR believed that the proposed use would satisfy the special land use requirements in the Wright Township Zoning Ordinance.

King stated that the building is already suitable for BDR’s needs and would not need extensive remodeling. BDR was already repainting, installing new carpeting, doing general maintenance and planned to modify the shower areas to comply with ADA requirements. 

According to King, BDR would not be increasing the size of the building. They would add an additional handicap parking space, but anticipated needing fewer parking spaces overall, as the residents of the facility will not have vehicles.

BDR planned no changes to off-street loading and parking. 

King explained that the rehabilitation program BDR offered was “voluntary, and the residents will be free to leave the program at any time”. King also stated that BDR used company vans to transport residents from the airport or bus station in Grand Rapids and return them to the airport or bus station in Grand Rapids when the residents graduate or choose to leave the program.

King outlined the standards contained in Section 1902 of the
Zoning Ordinance and noted that there are no specialized standards for a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility in the Ordinance. King indicated that BDR believed it met the general standards under Section 1902.

King stated that there would be “no adverse effect on nearby properties as the facility is already extensively screened by trees from adjoining residential properties, except for a small area”. King also claimed that there would be no adverse impact on water or sewer. A new well has already been constructed, and would be connected and inspected before the facility opened.

King claimed there would be no adverse impact on police and fire services. In BDR’s opinion, the volume of traffic at the facility is likely to be less than when the building was used as a senior citizen facility. BDR “anticipates fewer ambulance calls than for senior citizens”.

King stated that BDR did not anticipate glare, vibration or noise issues.

Following King’s statements, a short video was shown of other BDR facilities—and then Per Wickstrom took the floor, accompanied by a Diddy-like entourage including such hangers-on as former Detroit Lions wide receiver Herman Moore.

Per Wickstrom, Chairman of the Board of BDR, rambled up to the podium and stated that rehabilitation means “to change, get better, to be fixed.” He outlined the steps used by his clinics in the rehabilitation of its residents from drug and alcohol dependency.

Wickstrom painted a portrait even lovelier than any painted by Vermeer, telling Wright Township’s Planning Commission that “residents begin at BDR’s detox facility in Battle Creek”. Wickstrom stated that the “residents will then be transported to the Marne facility to complete their treatment”.  In addition, Wickstrom promised BDR will have Masters of Social Work and Licensed Social Workers on staff to work with residents as well as nurses and on-call doctors.

Before anyone is discharged, Wickstrom claimed an aftercare plan is developed for each resident. Treatment consists of a combination of detox, physical rehabilitation, learning and aftercare at their home via telephone.

But here’s what Per Wickstrom neglected to mention to the fine folks in Wright Township: Tranquility Detox, the "detox facility in Battle Creek" is unlicensed and lacks the proper discharge documentation required when patients are moved back and forth between facilities. 

Hey, someone could just get “lost”!

As your girl Miss Fortune reported exclusively in a September 16 story, the State of Michigan found 11 violations at Tranquility Detox’s 163 North Avenue location during its August 8 inspection. AFR and BDR (Manistee) both refer patients to the 163 North Avenue facility in Battle Creek for detox services, and the location run in tandem by the two clinics. 

However, no license exists for “Tranquility Detox”.

A Planning Commission member asked Wickstrom about the average stay of a resident, and how many social workers would be on staff at the proposed Marne facility.

Wickstrom replied that the average stay is 47 days and that the ratio of social workers to residents is approximately one Masters of Social Work to twelve residents as per state law.

A Planning Commission member asked Wickstrom to define “Moral Recognation Therapy”, a term used by BDR in its SLU permit application.

Wickstrom stated that recognation (sic) is a “word made up by Dr. Kelly and Dr. Robinson”. He explained that "Moral Recognation Therapy consists of 16 different steps and is similar to some court-ordered drug rehab programs".

Actually, let Miss Fortune school you, Per!

Moral "reconation" therapy,
the correct spelling, was developed and implemented in a prison-based drug offender therapeutic community in 1985 in Memphis, Tennessee. Its founders, Drs. Gregory Little and Kenneth Robinson, have since adapted it to other populations, including at-risk and offending juveniles. Part of the appeal of MRT is that it relies on cognitive behavioral approaches that can be readily understood by group facilitators who are not mental health professionals or trained clinicians. (Oh, maybe someone like BDR Manistee's Group Facilitator Elaine Martin, featured in my earlier post.)

When asked about BDR’s other facilities, Wickstrom stated there are two facilities in Battle Creek, one in Manistee, one opening soon in Traverse City and one that is opening in South Bend, Indiana. 

Miss Fortune can just hear the good people of Traverse City choking on their fair trade, shade grown artisinal chocolate bars when they hear about that one!

A Per Wickstrom drug clinic in Traverse City? Quel dommage!

And not so fast, Mr. Wickstrom! 

If you’re serious about opening that pile of bricks you own in South Bend, you might want to get off your assets and respond to the State of Indiana's Family and Social Services Administration request for additional information.

It was due on September 17…maybe the dog ate your homework, eh Per?

Undaunted, Wickstrom continued and said that the main focus of the program is to “put families back together”. And guess what, BDR anticipates hiring local residents in the community!

When asked whether BDR treats other addictions such as sex or gambling, Wickstrom stated that BDR focuses mainly on drug and alcohol addictions, but would address other addictions if necessary.

Amber Howe, executive director of BDR, chimed in and stated that if the facility cannot handle an aspect of a resident’s care, the resident would go to a higher level of care at a different facility. Howe also stated that at the end of the program residents are transported to the nearest public transportation (in Marne’s case, Grand Rapids), usually on Saturday mornings. Tickets and luggage fees are already paid for.

(Residents will not have cars at the facility.)

Howe also stated that if a resident decides to leave before completing the program, or against medical advice, BDR contacts the family and either transports the client to a transportation hub or hotel outside the area, or gives the family up to 12 hours to pick up the resident.

Econo Lodge

Well, let’s just take a look at one “hotel” that residents get sent to in Battle Creek. It's so scary, even local meth cooks and pimps refuse to go there! 

It's the Econo Lodge, located in Battle Creek at 165 Capital Avenue S. W. 

But scary didn't stop one enterprising prostitute, who in 2011 was arrested on a charge of child neglect after Battle Creek police said her children, ages 2 and 3, were left alone in an Econo Lodge room.

Officers were called to the hotel after another guest said he found a 3-year-old boy dressed only in a diaper in the hallway. Police said they found the other child in a room alone and asleep. The mother of the children was found in another room--her "trick pad"-- with a man. 

Police said they found empty liquor bottles in the room where the children were staying and the mother's blood alcohol level was .232 percent after she was arrested. 


According to BDR, the maximum occupancy would be 168 residents in 84 units and no employees would be living on-site. BDR also stated that there would be a ratio of 60 staff to 180 clients during the day, and that there are two staff shifts which run from 7:00-7:00. There would be on-call counselors at night.

A discussion was held regarding security at the property. BDR
representatives stated that all exits have alarms and that there are “128 cameras at the property”. There will be 2-3 security officers on the property 24/7. There will also be security viewing stations, and will be able to monitor everything except bathrooms.

If someone walks out, security will intercept the client and “talk
them into following the established protocol for leaving the facility”. BDR stated that the average age of its residents is 36 years old, with the youngest being 18 and the oldest being 77. Most of BDR’s residents are 25-35 years old.

Howe stated that BDR would hire as many people as possible from the local community as long as they have the proper credentials.
Wickstrom explained that he created the rehab program by combining aspects of the five most popular treatment modalities into one rehab program.

Oh, and Per Wickstrom claimed that BDR's "success rate was above 50 percent"!

Bet you can't wait for Part Two!

Here's a preview:

When asked about recent Narconon controversies, Wickstrom  stated that "Narconon is not affiliated with BDR".

Really? Really

On January 18, 2013, Best Drug Rehabilitation was singing a very different tune, as you can clearly see in a screen capture below.

Sit back and get ready for Part Two on Tuesday, October 21.


  1. I hope you sent a copy of this to the commission!

    1. I've sent a link to the story to the Township Supervisor. They need to know what they're really up against!