Fines and fees collected from alcohol and drug offenders are being used to support programs offered by the Drug Free Boone County Coalition to help substance abusers kick their habits.
“Being able to use the offender fees that the county collects is crucial in providing much-needed support for prevention efforts and treatment services that are severely under-funded in our county,” said Penny Rader, director of Boone County Court Intervention Services.
Using information from state and local sources, the coalition has chosen to focus on underage drinking and smoking; prescription drug abuse, and adult alcohol and marijuana use, Rady said.
“Our county faces serious substance abuse issues that impact all of us, directly or indirectly,” DFBCC chair Lisa Hutcheson said.
“We have a great coalition representing a wide variety of the community,” Hutcheson told a recent meeting of the Boone County Healthy Coalition.
The group uses whatever local data “we can get our hands on,” Hutcheson said.
“Any money we give out has to be either for law enforcement, criminal justice, intervention and treatment, or prevention,” Hutcheson said. While the guidelines for grants are set by law, the priorities are based on local issues.
While an organization can submit an application at any time, grants are only awarded in January, May and December, she said.
“There are instances where we may make an exception, rarely,” Hutcheson said.
Among the programs the group has already funded are presentation at the after-prom parties at Lebanon, Western Boone and Zionsville high schools; a “lunch and learn” seminar at Boone County Senior Services, Inc., on prescription drug abuse; and assistance for Tobacco Free Boone County; D.A.R.E. and the YMCA.
Other than a $1,000 cap on the after-prom party programs, there is no limit to the amount the coalition can grant for a proposal, so long as there’s money left in the budget line for a particular priority.
The all-volunteer group has “a pretty good budget for the size of our county,” Hutcheson said, with an annual budget between $40,000 and $50,000.
“Once the money is gone, we can’t fund anything under that line item until the next (calendar) year,” she said.
The coalition is open to the public, and meets from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on the third Wednesday of every other month at Boone County Senior Services, 515 Crown Pointe Drive, Lebanon. The next meeting is July 18.
Every Indiana county has a Drug Free Coalition, part of the Governor’s Commission for a Drug Free Indiana. The program is administered by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute.