State pulls plug " feds save meth program |

State pulls plug " feds save meth program

A program meant to educate youth and the community about the dangers of methamphetamine has lost state funding, forcing the county to turn to federal dollars to continue with projects.

The state Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs issued a letter to the county’s Behavioral Health Department, telling them to suspend activity within its Meth Action team and mentoring programs.

The action was needed to comply with Governor Schwarzenegger’s executive order to reduce government spending until the budget is approved, said county executive officer Rick Haffey.

“Behavioral Health was informed that any activity on these grants would not be reimbursed, even retroactively,” Haffey said.

The action underscores concerns that the state’s budget crisis ” still unresolved in a budget debate gridlock ” is hurting the county’s ability to provide needed programs. Combating meth use is one of the its biggest challenges.

“We weren’t expecting it to end so abruptly. It really takes the rug out of the program,” said Michael Heggarty, the county’s director of behavioral health.

One county worker was told to go home for a day, before the county realized it could continue funding the work using federal dollars from a national Substance Abuse and Treatment program.

The state grant issued last year runs out on Sept. 30, Heggarty said.

“It’s kind of like a culmination of a year’s work, so we didn’t want to cut it off,” Heggarty said.

Eight high school student mentors will give a 20-minute presentation of their meth prevention work to the county board of supervisors at 10:30 a.m. today in the board chambers of the Eric Rood Center, 950 Maidu Ave. in Nevada City.

Though the county doesn’t expect the state to renew the same grant for meth programs next year, similar work will continue using federal funds through the Coalition for a Drug Free Nevada County and the Substance Abuse Advisory Board, Heggarty said.

To contact Staff Writer Laura Brown, e-mail or call 477-4231.

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