Financial assistance is out there, but one just has to find it.
That’s a little easier said than done considering the fact that most grants for municipal or county projects are very competitive, whether that be nationally competitive or competitive in-state.
But that’s not stopping the Clay County Misdemeanor Drug Court team from going after a $200,000 Department of Justice Enhancement Grant to enhance the services it provides to drug and alcohol offenders in West Point and Clay County. If awarded the grant, the county would be responsible for a 25 percent match, and at least 25 percent of that match can be in-kind.
Thursday during the Clay County Board of Supervisors meeting, Phylis Benson, project analyst with the Golden Triangle Planning and Development District, commended Drug Court Director Edward Houston for the hard work, time and effort he put into the initial grant application, which she said is not an easy process.
Benson presented findings from the Bureau of Justice, which reviewed the Drug Court’s initial application for the grant. After reviewing the application, the Justice Department noted positive attributes of the application and made suggestions on what else needs to be done to acquire the funds. The program requires that Houston attend several Bureau of Justice workshops/conventions that have to be factored into the grant, and Benson advised Houston to factor travel into the Drug Court budget since the workshop attendance would be mandatory to receive the grant.
“We need to nail down this budget,” Benson said. “We have a week, in essence, to get this done.”
The grant application must be turned in next week and before that time Houston must gather letters of support to send in with the application. Drug Court must also show the Bureau of Justice that services and activity in the Drug Court program can be sustained.
The grant is funded over a two-year period and is a cost reimbursement grant through which Clay County must pay 75 percent of the grant and be reimbursed for that amount.
District 3 Supervisor R.B. Davis asked whether or not the county should wait a while before submitting the grant to allow the state legislature time to approve state funding for Mississippi’s drug courts. Houston said he feels submitting the grant at this time won’t be a factor and said Clay County’s Drug Court can go ahead and proceed with the grant application even if Drug Court is turned down for the funds.
“There is another grant that we saw the other day that’s $50,000 and doesn’t require matching dollars, and also with Drug Court fees we are collecting – just like my last job we operated under grants, but if we don’t get them we try to be self-sufficient,” Houston said. “If we don’t get this $200,000 grant we can still keep rocking on. If not we might have another one from the Justice Department that will allow us to keep going...We’re not going to look at it as if we’re going to fall. We’re going to keep pressing on. We don’t want to take taxpayers’ money, but we want to steadily help taxpayers where drugs are affecting the community.”