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Funding for mental health services requested from county

Published 12:03am Tuesday, July 16, 2013

NATCHEZ — After grant and funding cuts forced Southwest Mississippi Mental Health to temporarily suspend some services, an official with the organization says its drug addiction recovery support services for the region will resume soon.

Southwest Mississippi Mental Health’s Executive Director Dr. Steve Ellis addressed the Adams County Board of Supervisors Monday to explain the organization’s appropriation request of $77,143 for the upcoming fiscal year.

The request was based on a legislative formula that requires mental health regions to request counties give the equivalent of .75 of a mill based on the county’s 1982 valuation or the actual county appropriation for the fiscal year 1984, whichever is greater, Ellis said.

The request is the minimum amount for which the organization is allowed to ask, Ellis said, and the mental health provider is not asking for an increase.

The actual budgeted cost for the program in Adams County is $949,350, with local contributions making up approximately 8 percent, he said.

“In the past year, based on the number of individuals, the local support has averaged about $49.77 per person served in the past year,” Ellis said.

“We currently are providing programs in different areas of Adams County and currently employ 19 staff in our Adams County programs. There is a plan to increase that in the coming year. We understand that times are hard and everybody is scraping by; we have had funding and grant cuts ourselves.”

In the past year ending June 30, SMMH has provided services to 1,550 individual Adams County residents, approximately 4.8 percent of the population, he said. The organization provided 32,797 events of service to Adams County clients, resulting in 35,000 hours of service time.

An “event of service” is when a client receives treatment of some kind and is not just when someone at the office picks up a telephone, Ellis said.

When Adams County Drug Court Administrator Flavis Wiley asked Ellis if the organization was going to open another facility in Natchez, Ellis said SMMH had made an effort for several months last year to acquire a property with another organization, but in the end the other organization went in another direction.

However, the organization has a person starting today who will run Recovery Support Services — formerly known as the drug counseling after care program, which had been temporarily suspended — across the region, Ellis said.

SMMH covers Adams, Amite, Claiborne, Franklin, Lawrence, Jefferson, Pike, Walthall and Wilkinson counties as part of Mississippi’s Region 11 mental health region.

In other news from the supervisors’ meeting:

-The supervisors voted to authorize bidding for the FEMA 361 safe room project, for which Adams County Emergency Management Director Stan Owens had gotten final approval from FEMA.

The safe room project, which will be located near the Natchez High School campus, is a $3.25 million short-term storm shelter meant to be self-sufficient for 72 hours and is designed to be able to withstand an F5 tornado.

The project is being 95 percent funded by a federal grant.

-The supervisors voted to approve a permit by Entergy to relocate power poles that would be affected by work at the former Belwood Country Club, the site KiOR has announced it will build an alternative fuels production facility.

County Engineer Jim Marlow said the poles are currently too close to the roadway — which is elevated above the Belwood site — and trucks would have trouble entering the site without impacting the power lines where they are currently located.

The supervisors also approved a permit from Natchez Water Works to extend a sewer line to the future home of the Natchez-Adams County Humane Society on Liberty Road.

-The supervisors approved a request from the Adams County Sheriff’s Office to auction off old vehicles that are no longer suitable for law enforcement work.

Col. Debbie Gee with the ACSO said one of the vehicles might be of use for in-town driving for the county drug court.

-The board voted to accept the resignation of Veterans Affairs Coordinator Erle Drane.

Drane will leave the job Aug. 31.

-The supervisors approved a 15-year franchise agreement with CableOne pending review by the county attorney.

-Litter Enforcement Officer Paul Brooks told the supervisors he is reviewing more than 20 overgrown properties in the county, and plans to come up with several proposals to address the issue of abandoned or dangerous lots.

In some instances, if county officials deem an overgrown lot to be a health hazard, the supervisors can declare the property a health hazard and have county crews cut the grass, placing the cost of the cutting on the property owner’s tax bill.

“We need to get the county out of the lawn care business,” Brooks said.

The litter officer also said county residents have complained to him about the fact that some people put bags of trash outside but do not place them in cans. Dogs or other animals will get into the trash and spread it, he said.

“I have stopped and talked to two or three people, and the two or three people that (other residents) have reported, we have reached them and they are going to go out and get some cans,” he said.