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County hires new health director

Dave Moller

Michael Heggarty of Santa Cruz has been hired as Nevada County’s new director of the Behavioral Health Department.

County Director of Human Services Jeff Brown said Friday that Heggarty was chosen because of his 29 years of experience in dealing with mental health issues and his ability to get along with community groups.

“He’s a seasoned professional,” Brown said. “He was our first choice.”

Heggarty, 54, replaces Robert Erickson, who will officially leave the position in July. He is currently the chief of adult services for mental health and substance abuse in Santa Cruz County.

“I’m looking forward to the challenge of a new job,” Heggarty said. “It’s an area where I’ve vacationed before and a place where I love to go fishing.”

Heggarty said he and his wife, Karen, have already bought a home in the area and will be close to other family members when they move here for his April 3 starting date. They have two grown children.

The possibilities of new Prop. 63 funding for mental health services makes it an exciting time to come to Nevada County, Heggarty said. The county is expecting $1 million from those funds later this year.

“I see it as a potential to transform the mental health situation in California,” Heggarty said. Nevada County’s plan to spend the $1 million outlines how badly the money is needed here, he said.

“It was dramatic,” Heggarty said of the plan. “There is a strong need compared to those who are being treated. The need doesn’t go away just because there’s no services.”

Heggarty said he has already heard about the county’s commitment to mental health issues and the various individuals in the community dealing with them.

“The more community involvement,” Heggarty said, “the stronger the services will be.”


To contact senior staff writer Dave Moller, e-mail davem@theunion.com or call 477-4237.

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