Supervisors split on how to run alcohol and drug

  Mimi Hall’s tenure as the county’s alcohol and drug director was supposed to end Aug. 30, but the Plumas Board of Supervisors asked her to keep the job a little longer. There’s just nobody else available to do it at this time.

  “Critical reporting needs to be done,” said Supervisor Lori Simpson of why Hall was asked to extend her service.

  Hall has administered the program for the past two years.

  In her letter of resignation submitted to the supervisors July 16 Hall wrote, “In May 2011, I offered my services to the County for the period of one year, at no additional compensation, to rebuild its Alcohol and Drug Programs.”

  Hall said she was resigning the position to devote her full attention to public health programs and services.

  The supervisors had discussed assigning the job to the county’s new mental health director, Kimball Pier, since many clients have both mental health and alcohol and drug disorders, but Pier said she isn’t ready for such a role.

  “I need some mentorship,” Pier said. “To learn enough and get support.”

  The county used to have a standalone drug and alcohol department, but it was disbanded.

  As the discussion turned to hire an acting alcohol and drug administrator and establishing a separate department, Supervisor Sherrie Thrall objected.

  “This shouldn’t be a separate position,” she said. “We have not been successful in the past in having this as a separate department.”

  Simpson, who has been working on the situation with the two department heads, as well as County Counsel Craig Settlemire, told Thrall that she viewed this as temporary situation.

  “Someone won’t move here who knows this is temporary,” Thrall said. “Who would want to do that?”

  Most recently the county hired Doug Carver to be its acting chief probation officer on an interim basis.

  Supervisor Jon Kennedy said that he understood Thrall’s trepidation, but there were “successful alcohol and drug departments in the state.”

  He added, “It’s so important it shouldn’t be treated as something for somebody who already has a full-time job.”

  Thrall said she wanted to explore the idea of hiring someone to work under the supervision of Pier or Hall.

  “I’m adamantly opposed to creating a department,” she said. She said that creating a new department would be “extremely unpopular.”

  Simpson said that statute required the head of alcohol and drug be of equal status and not report to another department head.

  With Hall tendering her resignation, and Pier being unready to assume the role, Simpson said, “We have no choice but to get an interim.”

  “I hear both sides,” Supervisor Kevin Goss said. “But I go back to what Jon (Kennedy) said on the fact that it’s a very important department.”

  The supervisors voted four to one (Thrall) to adopt a new job description for the county’s alcohol and drug administrator.

  But all five supervisors voted in favor of beginning the recruitment process to fill the position, which will report directly to the Board of Supervisors.

  The supervisors have discussed establishing a behavioral health services department, which would incorporate the departments of mental health and alcohol and drug, but such a move could be a long process.

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