Southeast Mental Health Services Expanding to Memorial Drive


SMHS Board Members Prepare to Shovel for Groundbreaking

SMHS Executive Director Becky Otteman at Future Site

Just as Lamar has an industrial park off North Main Street, a comprehensive medical park has been developing over the years at the northern end of Memorial Drive.  Another addition to the site now anchored by Prowers Medical Center and High Plains Community Health Center, took a step closer to fruition Tuesday, October 4, with ground breaking ceremonies for the new Southeast Mental Health Services building.   

The 4,300 square foot facility will be located at 100 Kendall Drive, on a one acre lot west of the dental office.  Completion of the project, according to SMHS Executive Director, Becky Otteman, should be by mid April of next year.  Addressing the outdoor gathering on Tuesday morning, Otteman spoke about the origins of the complex in 2005, when she and then SMHS Executive Director, Bob Whaley, drove by a for sale sign on the property.  She said, “Bob started backing up on the roadway, saying this is a spot we should have for the new facility.”  Otteman said the move would return the mental health services facility back to its origins in the health care campus.  “In 1965 we were located in a portion of Prowers Medical Center and eventually expanded to the county social services annex, and in 1996 moved to 3500 First Street in Lamar, our current location,” she recounted for the gathering.  

The construction will cost approximately $1 million and the support of the board of directors has been instrumental in reaching the capital campaign goal of a half million dollars, Otteman said.  Acorn Construction from Pueblo will be the prime contractor, but Otteman said local sub contractors will also be involved in labor and materials. 

The facility will not face either Kendall or Memorial Drive squarely, but will be set on an angle with access from Kendall Drive.  The project architect said one unique feature of the mental health facility will be the rear patio which faces south and will offer a six-foot tall donor stone.  The unique aspect will be a large, split stone which, every December 26, will focus the daylight from the winter solstice on a memorial plaque dedicated to Bob Whaley, the former executive director of Southeast Mental Health Services.

By Russ Baldwin


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