County commission supports mental health initiative
June 13--The Cullman County Commission gave its official blessing to a local effort aiming to reduce the number of local inmates who end up in jail when mental health treatment might have been the better option.
At its regular meeting Tuesday, the commission passed a resolution lending the county's support to the Stepping Up initiative, a move requested by Wellstone Behavioral Health (formerly the Cullman Area Mental Health Authority).
Wellstone Behavioral is in the process of consolidating local support for its planned application for a grant that would fund a staff position dedicated to identifying and assisting local people with potential mental health issues that often land them in jail on a variety misdemeanor charges.
Wellstone Behavioral COO Chris Van Dyke said Cullman will be joining a growing number of counties statewide in approving an alternate path for people with mental health problems to find treatment instead of repeated trips through the legal system.
"This resolution will sign Cullman County on to a growing list of counties in Alabama that support the assertion that there are too many people with mental health issues in our jails," Van Dyke said.
The resolution does not obligate any county money toward any new mental health programs; rather, it bolsters Wellstone's efforts as it moves through the grant application process.
In other business at its regular meeting, the commission:
* Heard a public comment from a resident of County Road 404 in the Baldwin community, who requested that a dead tree in the road's right of way be cleared, and also made a request to the sanitation department concerning her trash can placement.
* Authorized Kay Bell to enter into a clinical affiliation agreement with the College of Health Sciences at Samford University. The agreement will allow a Samford student to complete an internship at the Cullman Juvenile Probation office.
* Renewed a three-year license agreement to retain the AVG Internet Security Business Edition antivirus software for county computer systems.
* Passed a pair of annual resolutions to re-apply for federal grant funding to support the Cullman Area Rural Transportation System (CARTS).
* Authorized Emergency Management Agency director Phyllis Little to act as the county's representative in negotiating disaster relief money from the federal government for qualifying damage from the March 19 hail storm. Federal disaster relief funds will cover 75 percent of qualifying costs, with state and local matches split evenly at 12.5 percent apiece.
* Approved the county's portion of a shared-cost bid to Complete Construction LLC (with the City of Cullman) for a $126,514 septic system installation project at Cullman Regional Airport. The FAA will reimburse the county for the funds.
* Approved the $112,000 purchase of electronic voter registration "books," under a state mandate, to be used at polling places throughout Cullman County.
* Authorized Chairman Kenneth Walker to enter a lease agreement with the Cullman County Board of Education for the old Health Department facility on 4th Avenue in Cullman.
* Authorized Chairman Kenneth Walker to execute a quitclaim deed in favor of Chandler Family Investments, LLC for abandoned right of way property located at the intersection of Section Line Road and Hopewell Road.
* Authorized Chairman Kenneth Walker to sign an agreement to Exchange Real Estate and a warranty deed with Steve and Betty Bissot concerning property owned by the county on County Road 222, and property owned by the Bissots on County Road 852.
* Authorized Chairman Kenneth Walker to accept four burial plots at Cullman Memory Gardens given by Joe Ozbolt, and transfer the plots to the commission for use as indigent burial plots.
* Authorized Chairman Kenneth Walker to enter into an agreement with William Peek to host the Smith Lake Fest music festival, to be held Saturday, Sept. 29.
* Authorized county attorney Chad Floyd to initiate a civil action against Werner Enterprises and Dontie Latray Huff for damage to the bridge at County Road 821.
* Accepted a City of Cullman ordinance to enter into a joint agreement with the county for purchase of materials, equipment, supplies, labor and/or services.