Columbia County receives drug-free communities grant

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The Columbia County Coalition for Youth and Families has been awarded a grant totaling $675,000 to establish a program to help prevent youth substance abuse. The grant is one of 60 nationwide awarded by the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

The funds will be received in increments of $125,000 per year for five years. The funding period is set to begin Sept. 30.

Nancy Butler, manager of the Columbia County Community Network, will be program director for the grant. Project coordinator will be Peggy Gutierrez, who is currently a prevention specialist with Blue Mountain Counseling in Dayton.

Butler says a new office will be established in Dayton to coordinate grant activities, but a location has not yet been found. “We’re hoping that someone will step forward with office space as an in-kind donation,” she says.

Butler’s position will be about 10 hours per week, and Gutierrez’s position will be full-time. Approximately 45 percent of the grant funds will go toward salaries and employment costs. The Columbia County Hospital District will be the fiscal agent for the grant.

The project’s strategic plan calls for several activities to be directed toward the goal of reducing or eliminating drug and alcohol use by youth in Columbia County. These include: outreach to a wide range of community members and organizations; training for project and community leaders in the skills of abuse prevention; implementing a media campaign to increase community awareness of the dangers of youth substance abuse; and improved enforcement of alcohol and marijuana laws and regulations relating to youth.

As part of the project, a youth coalition will be created, which will include at least eight middle and high school students. That group will receive training and meet regularly to help with the project.

Butler says that the project will also involve detailed monitoring of progress in achieving objectives and strict auditing of funds.

At the end of five years, CYF will be eligible to apply for an additional five-year grant to continue the project. The maximum grant period is 10 years.

The drug free communities grant program was established as part of the Drug-Free Communities Act of 1997. The Office of National Drug Control Policy, which reports to the president, was created in 1988.

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