TWIN FALLS — The contract for the region’s state-funded mental health crisis center will go to ProActive Behavioral Health, which is run by the chairman of the South Central Behavioral Health Board.

Following the recommendation of a smaller selection committee that reviewed the three applicants, the board voted without opposition Wednesday to give the contract to ProActive, which has offices in Gooding, Twin Falls and Burley. Frank Knight, the SCBH board chairman, is its CEO.

The state of Idaho has funded two crisis centers so far that are already open — in Idaho Falls and Coeur d’Alene — and lawmakers put money in this year’s budget for one in the Magic Valley and one in the Boise area. The centers take people in who are having mental health crises or substance abuse problems for up to a day, help them out and point them toward resources to get further help. Health care and law enforcement officials have given them credit both with helping people and saving money, since some people who go to the crisis centers would have ended up in jail or the hospital otherwise.

Wednesday, Knight recused himself from the discussion and the vote, and a couple of other board members who will be involved in approving the contract at later stages or overseeing it recused themselves from voting as well. The board voted after almost an hour of discussion, going over the scoring process the selection group used to ensure Knight’s position didn’t bias it.

“They didn’t go into this with a quick decision,” South Central Public Health Director Rene LeBlanc said. “They took time on it. They pondered on it.”

ProActive scored second on the written portion of its application, with Lifeways, a mental health provider based in Ontario, Ore., coming in first place, but ProActive scored higher on the interview component and had a higher average score overall. 9C’s Inc. scored lowest on both portions.

Knight said after the vote that he kept himself as far from the selection process as possible.

“Coming into this meeting, I had no idea what was going to be happening,” he said.

The selection committee met several times, and the five people on it scored the applicants on both portions independently, without knowing how the others were scoring them, LeBlanc said. This, he said, ensured peer pressure and group-think didn’t enter the scoring process.

“We did not know the scoring patterns of our other selection committee members,” said Debbie Thomas, who was on the committee.

Scott Rasmussen, with Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s Twin Falls office, said that ProActive had the most realistic plan to staff the facility, which he said can be an issue given the shortage of health professionals in the area. Other factors a couple of other board members mentioned were the company’s financial stability and location — ProActive has an option to buy an old medical office at 560 Shoup Ave. West.

The crisis center here is supposed to open in December.

Knight told the board after the vote that he would strive to provide the best service possible and was confident in his employees.

“I know that we’ve got a lot of work to do, but I want you to know we’re very, very committed,” Knight said.

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