Belle Grove Springs

Van Ingram, Executive Director for the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, reflects on the legacy being built on his grandfather’s land in Eastern Kentucky.

Group of people in front of sign

Article originally appeared in the Winter 2024 issue of Living Recovery. To view the full magazine, click here.

On a brisk fall morning the fog slowly lifts off the foothills of Fleming County. A car sits idling as a man ponders his childhood – happy memories of what once was.

Executive Director for the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, Van Ingram, was collecting his thoughts that October daybreak. He admits visiting the land Belle Grove Springs sits on brings back raw emotions.

What Could Have Been

“It makes me think about what could have been,” he reflected.

It was here as a child that Ingram skinned his knees, shared laughs with his granddad, and found his faith – even making the decision to be baptized in the pond across the road.

“For a kid from suburban Detroit, it was like you’d died and gone to heaven every summer,” Ingram recalled.

Back then, Ingram was just a young boy from southern Michigan. Today, he’s one of the leading voices in improving Kentucky’s approach to substance use disorder treatment.

In 1960, Ingram’s grandfather, a steelworker, found himself with money from two separate insurance settlements – one from a work-related injury and the other from an automobile crash that killed his wife and three daughters. He used the money to begin buying land.

One piece of land was the property on which Belle Grove Springs, an Addiction Recovery Care residential treatment center for men, now sits. Back then his grandfather, who loved antiquities, envisioned slowly turning it into a Western-themed village. He dreamed of a place for families to enjoy go-karts, stagecoach rides, and fishing in the lake the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers built as a flood prevention project.

His grandfather’s dream started to come to life in 1975, with a grand opening on the property. Two weeks later, however, tragedy struck the family again. His grandfather suffered a heart attack and did not survive.

Coming Full Circle

The purpose of this land has now come full circle some 50-plus years later.

Today, Addiction Recovery Care operates a private-insurance residential treatment center on the 300 serene acres Ingram’s family once owned.

“I’m grateful that it is a place healing people,” reflected Ingram. “It is being used in a good way, a place that would make my grandfather proud.”

ARC’s Belle Grove Springs facility features a country farmhouse overlooking the 22-acre lake where Ingram was baptized. And much like Ingram discovered his faith, hundreds of men have found healing and purpose over the years and begun the journey to rebuild their lives here.