Clark Center dedicates Monett building to Compton

Thursday, October 17, 2013

In a special ceremony, the Clark Community Mental Health Center dedicated its new building in Monett to Frank Compton, its longtime chief executive officer.

Suzette Huntress, vice president of operations for the Clark Center, presided over ceremonies at the education building formerly owned by the First Baptist Church at Third and Dunn streets. Dedication was held prior to the Clark Center's first 5K benefit run.

A new cornerstone on the building now says "Clark Community Mental Health Center Compton Building."

Huntress explained the 12,000-square-foot facility now houses the Clark Center's alcohol and drug abuse program, plus its psycho-social program.

Dedication of the building coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Community Mental Health Act of 1963. The national law provided federal funding for community mental heath centers in the United States.

Huntress noted the occasion also marked Compton's 50th year working in the mental health field.

Scott Fitzpatrick, 129th District state representative, was on hand for the occasion to present three resolutions honoring Compton. Two of the resolutions came from each house of the Missouri General Assembly. The proclamation was issued by Governor Jay Nixon.

Te resolutions described how Compton completed his master's degree in social work from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He began his social work career with the Missouri Division of Welfare office in Lawrence County in 1963.

Switching to community mental health in 1969 as a psychiatric social worker at the Ozark Community Mental Health Center in Joplin, Compton worked in public service for eight years. At that time he formed a partnership, Human Behavior Associates, which provided the leadership for the development of the Clark Center, which incorporated in 1971 at Barry-Lawrence Counseling Services.

Compton moved to southeastern Vermont in 1976, where he became program director of mental health services for southeastern Vermont. He later returned to Missouri to head the Clark Center.

The resolutions went on to detail the wide range of community service activities in which Compton has participated. These included chairman of the Westminster School District Board of Education, chairman of the Windham Northeast Supervisory Union Board, a director for the Monett Chamber of Commerce, Monett Kiwanis Club, a charter member of the Monett Area Community Foundation, founder and board member of the Smart Start Daycare Center and a leader in bringing the Children's Advocacy Center ro rural southwest Missouri.

The Senate resolution joined "to applaud the personal and professional accomplishments garnered thus far in the life and work of Frank Compton and to convey to him this legislative body's most heartfelt best wishes as he celebrates his 50th anniversary in the field of social services."

Nixon's proclamation recognized the dedication of the Clark Center Compton Building.

Fitzpatrick recounted his first meeting with Compton in State Senator David Sater's office. Fitzpatrick noted that Compton has approached the General Assembly as the source of funding for mental health programs "not to be part of the problem, but to be part of the solution."

Compton briefly spoke to the audience and expressed his surprise that both his children came from Massachusetts and Vermont for the occasion. He expressed thanks to Huntress and others at the Clark Center plus community participants in the run for making the special occasion possible.

"Above all, I want to thank all the clients who came to support our efforts. They provide more than we can give to them," Compton added.

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