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CHESTERTON | The drug treatment center for adolescents and their families that opened in Porter County after receiving $200,000 from county government and $100,000 from a local nonprofit organization is closing.

Pathway Family Center is shutting down its site in the Chesterton area at the end of this week because of the weak economy and because the facility was not getting enough referrals to sustain services, according to an organization announcement.

"It's a very sad time," said Mann Spitler, who advocated bringing Pathway to Porter County.

Spitler is president of the Community Action Drug Coalition, which provided $100,000 in seed money to bring Pathway here in 2007.

"I still feel it (providing money to Pathway) was the right thing to do at the right time," Spitler said.

He said a lot of drug treatment centers have shut down, and Pathways' failure does not reflect on the quality of treatment. He said Northwest Indiana residents who need long-term treatment can use Pathway's Indianapolis facility, and he said there are treatment options provided by local organizations, like Porter-Starke Services.

Bob Franko, Porter-Starke vice president of development and marketing, said Pathways' closing is "unfortunate," but Porter-Starke is ready to pick up the slack.

"We have always offered adolescent substance abuse services and, in fact, recently enhanced our services," Franko said.

Spitler said despite Pathways' failure, the Community Action Drug Coalition would consider funding future initiatives that could help fight the county's drug problem.

Porter County Commissioner Bob Harper said bipartisan support led the county to contribute $200,000 to bring Pathways to the area. But he said the county might be more hesitant in the future to help fund another drug treatment organization. However, Harper said the county needs a comprehensive study about how to handle its the drug problem.

Spitler, who lost his daughter, Manda, to a drug overdose in 2002, said the county has seen record numbers of fatal overdoses in recent years. County statistics show 32 overdoses in 2008 and 14 so far this year.

Porter County Drug Task Force coordinator Robert Taylor said he wasn't surprised when Pathways communicated to him that the center was closing. Many families just can't afford to pay for drug treatment.

"It's too bad (Pathways failed)," Taylor said.

"The dollars and cents weren't there. I don't blame them."

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