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   These are the stories we are working on for this week's newspaper:
  • Image makeover needed: In the soon-to-be-released grand jury report, the jurors said the county’s Alcohol and Drug and Mental Health departments are suffering from a poor public image.
  • Help at the jail: The Board of Supervisors approved the sheriff’s request to hire four corrections officers, but not before reminding him the county is facing a $3 million budget problem.
  • Water disaster?: The state has already enacted emergency conservation measures. The county is thinking about declaring a local disaster as well.

County close to restoring A&D services

Dan McDonald
Staff Writer
2/29/2012

Plumas County is another step closer to restoring state-sponsored alcohol and drug services.

Public Health Director Mimi Hall told the county’s Board of Supervisors the A&D program could be back in business as soon as this spring.

“There has been a lot of work by a lot of people who are participating in this,” Hall told the board during its meeting Tuesday, Feb. 21.

The supervisors voiced their appreciation for Hall’s efforts. After Hall outlined the progress achieved in six months’ work, board chairman Robert Meacher was beaming.

“I couldn’t be more pleased. Actually I’m beyond pleased,” Meacher said. “Because we are not just doing something important, we are doing it right.”

The county hasn’t had a formal alcohol and drug program since the supervisors ordered it to be shut down in 2008.

The department was closed after a decade of personnel and accounting problems. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were lost by the department annually, despite receiving half a million dollars in state subsidies.

Since 2008, Plumas has been the only county in the state without an alcohol and drug program.

In June, the supervisors appointed Hall as the county’s alcohol and drug administrator. The state requires a county to have an administrator in order to receive the annual $500,000 in state funding.

However, no remnants of the former A&D department, which was deemed to be dysfunctional, remained when Hall took on the job. She is essentially building a department from scratch.

“It’s really ground-breaking work,” Hall said. “Since we have an opportunity to start from scratch, we were really adamant that we should do it right.”

Doing it right has entailed six months of planning, research and input from numerous committees to help establish priorities. Hall said she has asked the state to monitor Plumas County’s effort to make sure the new A&D program is set up correctly.

“We want to make sure we are meeting all the requirements, and we are fiscally sound, and we are preparing properly,” Hall said. “A couple of folks from the state came here for a few days in second week of January. They reviewed what we have done so far — every aspect of the program, including our financials.”

Hall said she expects to present the finalized plan for the board’s approval in March.

She said she hopes to sign service contracts with service providers and have programs in place shortly after the board’s approval.

Despite the progress, Hall said people have asked her why treatment services can’t begin right now.

“The biggest reason is we don’t have all of our policies, procedures, criteria and guidelines set up,” Hall said. “We are starting from scratch.

“It’s part of the reason I asked the state for a site visit. Because my heart tells me that we need to be providing treatment right now,” Hall said. “But the state has confirmed that we need to have these guidelines in place before you launch into (providing treatment services).”

Hall said that if restarting services is delayed for any reason, an interim option would be to subcontract with other counties. “Lassen, Butte and Sierra counties are already providing services,” she said.

Hall said that after the program is up and running, it will be continually evaluated. She said the program’s initial strategy, developed from group feedback and other studies, would focus on helping families and children.

“That doesn’t mean we are spending all our funding in that area,” Hall said. “But we are going to make a concerted effort to identify areas of prevention, treatment and recovery — with a focus on children and families.

“Then we decided that after we successfully reached those outcomes the first three years, then we’ll start changing our focus to see what else do we do.”

 


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