Substance council says ‘problems start with alcohol’

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

Although a lot of focus has been put on opioid abuse in society, alcoholism is still a prevalent problem locally.

“Still in Dubois County, our problems start with alcohol. That’s no doubt,” Dubois County Councilwoman Becky Beckman said during the council’s meeting Monday. “Because opioids are in the news all the time and that’s all you hear about, we tend to not even think about where our kids are starting.”

Beckman is a member of the Dubois County Substance Abuse Council. Members of the substance abuse council requested that the county council allocate to the organization $41,393.82 user fees collected from offenders in 2018. The council approved the allocation.

Nancy Eckerle, another member of the substance abuse council, said the organization works hard to bring awareness to the dangers of alcohol and substance abuse. That includes reminding parents and adults of the problems associated with allowing and enabling underage drinking.

“It’s illegal to provide to minors. You keep drumming that in and drumming that in. But minors still get alcohol,” Eckerle said. “So we keep plugging away and using this money to the best of our ability to fund various programs.”

Substance abuse council member Terry Tanner explained that the substance abuse council uses the money it has to cover four categories: discretionary expenses, which includes the salary of its coordinator, and grants requests that fall under the categories of prevention/education, treatment/recovery and justice/law enforcement.

The $43,668.28 it now has, which includes the allocation and $2,274.46 that was not used last year, will be split evenly among the four categories, Tanner said.

Last year, the organization received about $28,647, he said. This year’s increase in money could be attributed to the increased effort the county started last year to collect the user fees, which includes using a collection agency, Tanner and Eckerle said.

Last year, each of the four categories in the organization’s budget was allotted $7,161.75. The organization spent the entire allotment under justice/law enforcement on six grants, and under the treatment/recovery category on four grants. Under the prevention/education category, a total of $6,532.15 was spent on seven grants.

“We’ll continue to do what we can,” Tanner said.

The county council also:

Agreed to hire an additional dispatcher for six weeks to help with manning the dispatch consoles while current Assistant Director Jeana Mathies is being trained by outgoing director Janice Love. Normally, the assistant director would be actively working at the dispatch consoles. The new person will start on Feb. 18. Love will retire March 29.

Designated the entire amount in the Dubois County Park Board’s non-discretionary fund, $285,000, to be used for park improvements. Park Board President Christine Prior told the council that the board is planning to submit projects included in the park’s conceptual plan for a state land and water grant, and will need the funding as a match for the grant.

Approved an appropriation of $1,200 from the Dubois County Community Corrections’ community transition fund, which will be used to purchase a taser. An additional $600 will be appropriated at the council’s next meeting to cover the costs of accessories that go with the taser, such as batteries and a holster.

Set dates for upcoming meetings. The council will meet on Feb. 25, March 18, April 22 and May 20. The meetings, which are on Mondays, will start at 4:30 p.m. in the commissioners/council room on the second floor of the Dubois County Courthouse Annex, 602 Main St., Jasper.

Reorganized its board, re-electing Jerry Hunefeld as president and electing Craig Greulich as vice president.




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