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Editorial: Keep original SWMHC plan intact

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We're pleased that Nobles County commissioners remained true to the "motion of intent" they approved three weeks ago and authorized during Tuesday's meeting a $500,000 contribution to Southwestern Mental Health Center's plans for a new Worthington facility.

We're not so sure, however, about a suggestion that SWMHC consider renovating the Avera Medical Group Worthington building downtown.

During discussion of the $500,000 contribution Tuesday, Nobles County Commissioner Marv Zylstra noted that the original plan for SWMHC was "a campus-type setting." The new Unity House has already been built on the former Central Elementary site; the long-needed new office building would follow on the same property.

Both SWMHC director Scott Johnson and Nobles County Commissioner Dave Benson noted Tuesday that several options have been looked at for the new office building, including the Avera site.

The Avera option would involve renovations and an almost-certain removal of the structure's older portion; it would then offer 20,000 square feet of space, compared to the 14,000-square-foot new building now proposed by SWMHC. Construction of the new building -- which SWMHC has been advocating for more than six years now -- would allow the original plan Zylstra pointed out to remain intact.

We applaud county commissioners for their vote. We now hope they let SWMHC proceed as it best sees fit in order to offer their array of services in the best manner possible.