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Plans finalized for Prop. 63 money

Plans for the $1 million Nevada County will receive annually through the Mental Health Services Act were approved by the Board of Supervisors at Tuesday’s meeting.

Submitting plans to supervisors marks the culmination of a year of strategizing by the county’s Behavioral Health Department, which included much public input, said Behavioral Health Director Robert Erickson, adding that the next step is approval of the plan at the state level.

Funds should begin arriving in four to five months, he said.



Monies from MHSA, which is also known as Proposition 63, are specifically designated for treatment of people suffering from severe mental illness, Erickson said, and the county has designed the intensive Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) program to use the new funds to help these patients. New services will include sending a mental health worker with police to certain crime scenes, Erickson said.

Leal Walz, president of National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) in Nevada County, spoke in favor of the plan at Tuesday’s meeting, adding afterward that public involvement in drafting it was one highlight.




A dozen other people attended Tuesday’s meeting to support the plan.

The $1 million from MHSA cannot be used for the Behavioral Health Department’s core program funding, which has not matched pace with inflation. Lack of new funding for the core programs will translate into cuts to services and to some of the approximately 30 full-time staff members in the department, Erickson said.

Michael Heggarty, who will be replacing Erickson as director June 1, said some caseloads will be higher because of decreased core program funding relative to current prices, adding that other of the county’s mental health programs will be receiving more funding through MHSA.

In other business Tuesday:

• The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a contract of up to $43,390 with the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District for the development of the Truckee Learning and Training Center, but only after amending the contract to strike a provision allowing students to complete their high-school degrees in Spanish.

Approving the original resolution, for example, would have allowed county funds to be used to help a student who moved from Mexico to Truckee in the 11th grade and who had been attending high school in Mexico, to earn the equivalent of a high school degree without becoming fluent in English, said Dennis Williams, Superintendent of Truckee Schools.

Accelerating the graduation process for these students would help fill jobs in the Truckee area, which has a housing market and high cost-of-living that prohibits people from moving there to take those positions, Williams said.

Supervisor Ted Owens said the Truckee-area community was trying “to find a way to fill jobs we currently can’t fill,” which includes fields such as maintenance and custodial work, adding that incentives would still be in place outside of school to help the students learn English once they graduated.

Supervisor Sue Horne said, however, that it wasn’t beneficial to students in the long-run if they didn’t learn English, and supervisors John Spencer and Robin Sutherland joined her to reject the original resolution by a 3-2 vote, with Supervisor Nate Beason siding with Owens. All five then voted in favor of the resolution once the contract was amended.

Williams said after the meeting he would seek funding from places other than the county to help students complete their high school degrees in Spanish.

• The Board of Supervisors also approved a contract with Holdrege & Kull, Inc., paying them up to $45,500 to monitor Allison Ranch Road, which was closed due to a landslide on April 7.

“It is necessary to begin a geotechnical monitoring investigation as soon as possible to provide data upon which to move forward with an interim, as well as long-term, solution to this situation,” Michael Hill-Weld, director of Nevada County Department of Transportation and Sanitation, wrote in his staff report.

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To reach the staff writer Josh Singer, e-mail joshs@theunion .com or call 477-4234.


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