Partners Strengthens Province’s Substance Abuse Efforts

The North Carolina General Assembly building in Raleigh is seen. Senate Bill 105 (Sec 9F.3A) specifically provides $500,000 from the state to Partners Health Management to help Surry County fight substance use disorders.

The General Assembly awarded $500.00 to Partners Health Management to specifically address the needs of Surry County residents battling substance use disorder or those otherwise struggling with addiction. Partners has pledged to support the programs designed and implemented by the county office for substance abuse recovery in education, counseling, staff training and community outreach.

Mark Willis, the director of substance abuse recovery in Surry County, asked county commissioners to accept funding from Partners that would fund $151,248 for Vital Links Center. The center is leading three programmes, including a return to work program for those reintegrating after detention, with the idea that successful reintegration into the labor market is one way to significantly reduce recidivism.

Recovery Friendly Workplaces receives training and support in helping current employees struggling with substance use disorder. Employers are noticing lost productivity and excessive absenteeism due to substance abuse, and many are eager to find ways to help. Employee assistance programs are now much more common than in the past as employers want to help and retain employees rather than hire and retrain.

With a Recovery to Work program, the county hopes to identify employers with whom they can work with to find where there are needs in the workforce that can be met. The Vital Links Center will receive referrals from the community, practitioners, law enforcement and the Department of Social Services for individuals to receive screening, occupational case management and job referrals to approved participants.

$65,000 has been earmarked for a planning and implementation study related to new treatment programs within the new Surry County Detention Center. An additional $96,400 of the money provided to state Partners will be used for county outreach and education programs. An “aggressive” education campaign will be launched across the province to spread that prevention is the best weapon against substance use disorders.

For local intervention and recovery support, an additional $159,089 has been set aside to increase funding for the county intervention team and $27,600 to increase funding for community transportation options such as Ride the Road to Recovery.

Partners’ support combined with funds from opioid schemes will be applied to the county’s long-term plan to fight substance use disorders through education, prevention, treatment and recovery services.

In other board news:

– The commissioners heard from members of the public on issues related to electoral integrity during the open forum portion of Monday’s meeting. Several members of the group marched around the historic courthouse in Dobson seven times before Monday night’s rally to commemorate the Old Testament battle of Jericho.

They asked the board for more communication and transparency about their requests and the status of any action to resolve their concerns. A major bottleneck remains the use of paper ballots as opposed to the electronic voting machines which they say are susceptible to outside manipulation and cost former President Donald Trump the 2020 election.

Rachel Collins and Dan Childress each addressed the board with passionate pleas to reconsider the county’s hasty withdrawal from the Pietmont Authority for Regional Transportation Authority, the regional bus service that was once a preferred way of getting people to work outside the region. district.

Declining passenger numbers were noted by Commissioner Van Tucker, among others, before the pandemic, and there is concern among commissioners that passenger numbers will not return. Mount Airy Commissioner Joe Zalescik also expressed concerns about driving before the city council voted unanimously to issue a resolution similar to Pilot Mountain’s request to restore service.

Collins also noted that when leaving PART Surry County, $300,000 in federal dollars was diverted directly to Randolph County and that the car rental ballyhood tax was all meant to stay in place.

Tony Davis of the Surry Soil and Water Conservation District informed the board that a $261,666 funding offer has been approved for the StreamFlow Rehabilitation Project. Funds from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture will be used to clear debris from Surry County streams. David said those flows have been identified and the funds will come in once the work is complete. The commissioners gave their approval to sign the rubble removal contract as part of StRAP.

– County Manager Chris Knopf suggested, and the board agreed, that the county would not renew its Interurban Planning Services Agreement with the City of Dobson. The county has been helping plan, zoning and enforcing the code for Dobson since July 2017, and that agreement ended on June 30.

The county will continue to provide these services to the city of Dobson on a monthly basis until the end of January 2023 or until Dobson finds a new provider.

– The Department of Transportation will be carrying out work on North Bridge Street in Elkin and the sign for the Elkin Center must be moved or sold to the state so that work can continue. The sign is on the corner of N. Bridge St. and CC Camp Rd. on private land.

Surry County Public Works director Jessica Montgomery recommended that the county sell the sign to the state for $15,000 rather than work with the DOT to remove the sign and later replace it, which the board approved.

– Jerry Sawyers’ term as one of the public members of the Surry County Board of Health ends this month. Health Council President Eddie Jordan has recommended the reappointment of Sawyers. Commissioner Larry Johnson said Sawyers had been a good member of the health board as he decided to reappoint him for another term and the commissioners were unanimous.

– Finally, Sheriff Steve Hiatt made a request to the board to honor retired members of the police force: “It is the custom of the County of Surry and the Surry County Sheriff’s Office for a retired officer to receive their badge and service weapon upon retirement.”

North Carolina’s general statutes allow for local discretion for decisions such as these for deceased and retired law enforcement members. Sheriff Hiatt is making the request on behalf of outgoing Deputy Eric Latza, Deputy Jonathan Bledsoe and Chief Deputy Paul Barker and expresses his gratitude to all three on behalf of the county.

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