There are casualties, victims and survivors of any war, including the war on drugs. While government resources are used to fight this war there is apparently little being used to help those left in its wake. The Harrison City Council has found its resources are also limited when it comes to helping people who are battling and recovering from drug addiction.
Two faith-based organizations appeared before the city council recently.
Humbled Hearts, a volunteer community outreach organization offering an addiction recovery program in Harrison, has asked the city to help with funding. Program director Trisha Earnhart explained at last month's city council meeting that the organization is trying to obtain a recovery, support, educational, outreach and community resource center. Humbled Hearts wants to be able to assist people get their lives back together, reduce the crime rate in Harrison through rehabilitation services and to refer them to other contacts and resources based on individual need assessments. “Our primary goal is to help them become productive members of society,” Earnhart said.
The organization is seeking $14,000. The council indicated it might contribute half that cost.
At Thursday night's committee meetings, council members met another recovery group of people who perform a service for the community. Several clients of Church 180 Seekers House in Harrison and its director, Lindsey Harp, were applauded for the work they are doing cleaning up after the geese that leave their droppings at Lake Harrison Park. The men involved in the morning geese patrol were featured in a news segment that aired recently on Springfield, Missouri, television station KY3. The video was viewed by council members during Thursday's meeting.
Harp said the program is funded by donations from other churches and individuals. When new people come into the house they receive a Bible and other literature to help with their recovery. That's about $70-$80 worth of material per person. Nearly all of the rehab clients are on probation or parole. They are drug tested usually once a week. It costs about $140 for every 25 drug tests.
"That gets pretty expensive. Right now we have 10 men. We're completely full." Harp said.
On top of that the cost of trash pickup at the house is going up because a larger dumpster is needed from Orion Waste Solutions, the city's contracted solid waste hauler. That will cost about $100 a month. Harp said it would be helpful if the city could get the waste service cost reduced.
As far as geese control, the city has some equipment that is designed to make noise to chase them out of the park. But the geese get accustomed to the sound. Mayor Jerry Jackson said he has contacted Game and Fish for advice. The Fire Department is also making a hose and a hydrant available to the group to wash down the sidewalks in the park.
At the last council meeting, Finance director Luke Feighert was directed to find money to help fund the Humbled Hearts program. Feighert reported Thursday that he could not find any usual line item from which the council could pull the money. However, there is a line item that typically is not utilized every year. It is a building maintenance line item under the Maintenance Department. Any major equipment breakdown would use up the money in that account. He suggested waiting until the end of the year before appropriating money from that fund. Otherwise, if the council wanted to make an appropriation, now, it should come from reserves.
The discussion centered on fiscal responsibility and appropriate use of city funds. Magness said it would not be fiscally responsible to take money from already budgeted line items. It had previously done that in regard to agreeing to pay employees longevity pay this year.
Jackson said he understood fiscal responsibility is the objective of the council.
"But this is part of the big picture we decided to attack on January 1. That was the war on drugs. That is what this is about. The war on drugs is not only raiding Alpena or the 24 houses by the FBI or setting up traps on the highway. It is about helping addicted people that want to help themselves. That has got to be a part of that. And if we, the city, cannot help that, what are we here for?"
Jackson noted that the funding request was for one time only, not a yearly request. "It's not like we have a lot of these groups in town, so they are not going to be lined up here next year," Jackson said. "I'll be glad to tell them no."
Council member Wayne Cone cautioned the committee that the city has to determine if this is a gift. Gifts are not allowed by the state Legislative Audit. Feighert agreed that the city would have to be receiving a service in return.
At the last meeting, council member Bill Boswell supported the city appropriating $7,000 to Humbled Hearts. He said Thursday that he has not changed his mind.
"I think John Q. Public out there needs to understand that the city at the end of May is $17 million in reserves." He noted, however, that only $3.1 million is not obligated. The rest cannot be touched or moved to other funds.
A motion was made and seconded by the Finance Committee to fund $7,000, with Legislative Audit approval, for Humbled Hearts. An appropriation ordinance will be put on the council's next regular meeting's agenda.
Boswell said he would suggest the council wait and see how the year finishes to see if the city can help the Church 180 Seekers House.
In a related matter, the Finance Committee received a proposed ordinance appropriating $10,000 to the District Court Probation Office. The Boone County Quorum Court met on Tuesday and passed a similar appropriation ordinance that will help the struggling office for the rest of the year. More on this part of the meeting will appear in Tuesday's edition of the Daily Times.