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Program facing loss of funding

October 19, 2011
Jenn Brookens - Staff Writer , Fairmont Sentinel

FAIRMONT - Drug court has worked wonders for the lives it has managed to turn around. But one program that falls under drug court will run out of funding in March, with no new grants in sight.

Bev Snow of Martin, Faribault and Jackson County drug courts approached Martin County commissioners Tuesday.

"I'm not submitting a request today, but I want to let you know," Snow said. "If I find any new funding I will tell you, but I haven't so far."

The program in question involves jail operations and a program-enhancement project. A $282,000 federal stimulus grant for the project was received in September 2009, with the money spent in 2010 and this year. Through this program, 1.5 jailers were hired and inmates could get involved in activities such as studying for a GED.

"The [state] Department of Corrections gave the jail high points because of this grant," Snow said. "We could not do it without the extra jailers."

Another portion of the program involves a mental health nurse who visits inmates.

"As we all know, jail is the new mental health hospital," Snow said. "A lot of people end up in jail because of mental health issues."

One success story is Mike, who is two years clean, thanks to the program. He appeared in front of commissioners Tuesday. Mike suffers from ailments such as carpal tunnel syndrome and a traumatic head injury. He is also a recovering addict.

"As part of the program, I'm meeting with the nurse on a regular basis," he said. "She helps me schedule doctor's appointments and manages and checks on my medications ... Coming here and meeting with her makes me accountable. Because of my traumatic head injury, I don't remember things well. My meds are being counted and the narcotics stay at the jail. That helps a lot because I'm a recovering addict, and it's worth coming to the jail twice a day to stay away from overdosing or over self-medicating ... Being accountable gives me drive to do other things for the community, to give back all that I was taking away when I was using. I wouldn't be clean now if it weren't for this program."

Commission chairman Steve Pierce led his colleagues in giving Mike a round of applause for his personal success.

Because Snow made no formal request of commissioners, no action was taken in regard to the program in question.

In other business, commissioners heard from Dan Nelson, mayor of Dunnell, in regard to concerns about a four-way stop for county roads 8 and 9, which run through the town. Nelson reported farmers complained about having to stop for County Road 9 and another block later for Highway 4.

Nelson and other locals are concerned that people not familiar with Dunnell already tend not to notice the stop sign after stopping at the Highway 4 crossing. He wanted to know if Dunnell could have a lit stop sign.

Martin County Engineer Kevin Peyman said the views for both the east and west stop signs are not obstructed and are already on lightposts. There also has not been a recorded accident at the intersection in the past 10 years.

"The streetlights have shown to be more effective than lit stop signs," Peyman said. "I would question if this would be the best spot to put them, considering there is no recent record of accidents."

Peyman noted that lit stop signs cost $2,000 to $2,500 each.

"If we put them here, then a lot of other communities are going to start requesting them," Peyman said.

Peyman did suggest there could be a larger stop sign used. The current signs are 30 inches by 30 inches. There are 36-inch by 36-inch and 48-inch by 48-inch signs available.

Peyman also said there could be "Stop Ahead" warnings painted on the road, as there were before the street was resurfaced in 2001.



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