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Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune Eddie Wallace, communications director of OnTrack, and April Murray, residential programs director, walk through OnTrack’s new building for the Dad’s Program in east Medford Wednesday.

OnTrack steams ahead with reopened programs, new house

OnTrack seemed to veer off the rails a year ago, but the addiction recovery organization is back on track, reopening all of its programs and preparing to move dads and their children into a new facility in east Medford.

A year ago, OnTrack was under a microscope with state officials, who chastised the agency for substandard housing, while it also fended off legal threats, staff changes and allegations of improper behavior by some employees.

Internally, employees didn’t mince words about the shaky structure of the organization as it faced one controversy after another.

“Total chaos — that’s one of the words I heard,” said April Murray, who has been the residential programs director for just over a month. “The old OnTrack — what’s done is done.”

Those troubles seem to be behind OnTrack, which has invested $2 million in renovations at various buildings in Jackson and Josephine counties.

Last year, the Mom’s Program, also known as the HOME Program, was shut down by the Oregon Health Authority because of problems with the facility. It has been reopened after considerable remodeling and now houses 29 moms and children. Other apartments in Medford were also closed for remodeling.

An email response from LuAnn Meulink, licensing and certification manager for OHA, stated OnTrack had met all conditions to avoid revocation of the license for the Mom’s Program.

“These conditions included extensive facility repairs and improvements, staff training, meeting documentation standards and weekly visits to the facility,” Meulink stated.

The restrictions were lifted in February, and OnTrack has received a one-year license with monthly visits by a compliance specialist.

A teen program was moved from a downtown Medford location because the former building that housed it was in such bad shape and has been since boarded up.

The Dad’s Program, currently located on Franquette Street, is being moved into a large facility on Lone Pine Road June 12. The house cost the agency $450,000. The remodeling, including new furniture, cost another $160,000.

Other properties that have been improved include the Skunk Creek apartment complex in Grants Pass, and apartment complexes in Medford on 11th Street, 12th Street, Oakdale Avenue, Grape Street, Holly Street and King Street.

The 150-employee organization has seen considerable upper management changes as well, including new Executive Director Alan Ledford. Eddie Wallace, formerly with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, has joined OnTrack as its communications director.

Murray, who came from Jackson County Criminal Justice, said all these efforts to improve the residences have positioned OnTrack to better help drug-addicted members of the community.

The new Dad’s Program house on Lone Pine is 4,200 square feet, 700 square feet larger than the Franquette house. The Lone Pine facility will have larger play areas for children both indoors and outdoors. A larger, more private group therapy room will replace the existing one in the living room of the Franquette house. The bigger yard will provide room for a garden, volleyball court and barbecue area.

Responding to neighbor concerns, a taller fence is being installed around the property.

The house will have room for 10 dads and seven children.

Murray said the Dad’s Program typically lasts about 90 days before residents move on, though it’s difficult for addicts to fully recover.

“Sometimes it takes them five times through treatment before they quit,” she said.

While methamphetamine remains a scourge in the community, Murray said many people are coming in trying to shake off opiate addictions, particularly because of the powerful synthetic narcotic fentanyl. She said she’s heard of methamphetamine being cut with fentanyl, as well.

“There’s been a big switch to opiates,” she said.

Wallace, OnTrack’s spokesman, said the Dad’s Program is carefully monitored, and anyone living in the house must receive permission to leave the premises.

Video cameras watch over many of the living spaces in the house and are displayed in a central viewing area.

The former Franquette property will be taken over by Rogue Retreat, a homeless advocacy program.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on www.twitter.com/reporterdm.

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