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Financing for drug task force discussed

Group ponders special levy election, private donations as funding ideas

October 10, 2012
By Katie Kuba - Senior Staff Writer ( , The Inter-Mountain

A local group looking to establish a Randolph County Drug Task Force met Tuesday and discussed staging a special levy election to finance founding the task force.

The Randolph County America's Promise Coalition, an offshoot committee of the Randolph County Family Resource Network, met to discuss the next steps to take in forming a drug task force.

At the group's September meeting, two undercover officers with the Harrison County Drug Task Force attended to offer advice and support to the group as officials and community members contemplate how to deal with what they view as a rampant substance abuse problem.

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After discussing the issue with the Randolph County Commission, FRN director Rebecca Vance reported that money and manpower - and how to find both - would be the thorniest issues in the "complicated, complex process" of establishing a drug task force.

One way to raise the $10,000 to $30,000 necessary to underwrite first-year task force startup (the proposed task force won't be eligible for state funding until after its first year in operation) is to hold a special election for a levy or bond call, Vance said.

Vance said Randolph County Commission President Mike Taylor suggested that the county's America's Promise Coalition partner with volunteer fire departments to propose a "public safety levy." However, finding funds to finance a special election could also be problematic, she said.

"Apparently, it costs $45,000 to $50,000 to hold a special election," Vance said. "Of course, a levy's just one way [to raise the money to start a drug task force]. Private donations are a possibility, and now that the community awareness is finally there about how big of a problem it is, that's also feasible."

Randolph County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Parker said the county was also up against a manpower issue, given that local law enforcement agencies are already struggling with staffing.

"You need to find officers that like that work, that do that work, and that know how to do that work," Parker said.

"It's not going to be a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. job."

Vance said setting up the drug task force would not be "an overnight process."

"It's a very complicated, complex process, but once we get it started, it's going to be airtight," Vance said.

In other business, Vance announced that the unveiling of Randolph County's first ever awareness/prevention barn will take place at 2 p.m. Oct. 19 in Harman.

The barn, coated in pink paint, is designed to raise awareness about tobacco use and the fight against breast cancer.

The Randolph County America's Promise Coalition's next meeting will take place at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 13 at a to-be-determined location. Vance switched the meeting from afternoon to evening to encourage more community members - who might otherwise be engaged during the day - to attend.



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