The Williamson County Commissioners Court signed off on renovations to expand the county’s Law Enforcement Drop Center on Dec. 6 as the county continues its work with Bluebonnet Trails Community Services to assist individuals experiencing mental health crises.

The county agreed on a contract with Chasco Constructors to expand the 23-hour drop-off facility in Georgetown for $264,867, using unallocated federal American Rescue Plan Act funds to create space to accommodate more people as they are diagnosed for potential mental health issues. Law enforcement from around the county can bring individuals to the center for medical and psychological care before health professionals locate the appropriate services or placement for them.

The diversion center program started as a cost-saving measure to mitigate the expenses associated with someone going to jail or the hospital.

Williamson County Sheriff Mike Gleason said it is meant for those who “don’t need to be in jail but need care” because they are an immediate threat to themselves or others.

“The doctor sees them; the councilor sees them, but they’re not in jail, and they’re not in the ER getting a $10,000 bill for all the tests. ... We remove them from that environment, and it works perfectly,” he said. “It works so well that we’ve already outgrown it. It’s the only one like it in the state, so we’re learning as we go.”

Renovations to the center include a more open floor plan, upgrades to the kitchen area to support mealtimes, upgrades to plumbing and restroom facilities, and upgrades to the fire alarm system. The remainder of the building not used by Bluebonnet Trails staff and clientele will become office space for the Sheriff’s Office Crisis Intervention Team, which is also housed at the center.