City up for substance abuse prevention grant

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At the Dec. 16 Socorro City Council meeting the council was informed that a state agency wants to help prevent drug and alcohol abuse in Socorro County.

The council learned Monday the county is poised to receive a sizable grant from the Office of Substance Abuse Prevention and its partners to promote substance abuse education within the county.

The funding for the approximately $400,000 grant comes from New Mexico Human Service Department’s Behavioral Health Division. Officials awarded the grant to San Miquel, Sierra, Socorro and Torrance counties based on data regarding underage and adult drinking, alcohol-related motor vehicle deaths and prescription drug abuse.

Health promotion specialist Nadine Ulibarri-Keller told city councilors that the grant is earmarked to explore and address preventative measures.

“The purpose is not to pay for treatment or to pay for any kind of law enforcement types of activities,” Ulibarri-Keller said. “It is really to take a look at what the community needs, what exist in the community and some of the things that we can address.”

The first year, the coalition comprised of several community organizations, including the mayor’s drug task force and Socorro County Options and Prevention Education or SCOPE will receive only half the allotted amount because there is only six months remaining in the fiscal year.

Those funds will support various assessments, coalition development initiatives and strategic prevention framework plans that will help the coalition achieve its goals.

After the end of the first year the grantees will receive approximately $100,000 for each of the remaining three-years of the grant. The amount the grantees will receive this upcoming year is reduced $50,000 because the grant was awarded in the middle of the fiscal year that runs form June 30 to July 1.

Ulibarri-Keller told councilors that she wasn’t sure if the grant would be automatically renewed after the four years expires. She said the grants funding sources will monitor the coalition’s progress throughout the life of the grant to ensure progress is made.

“Not only are they interested in seeing prevention activities they want to know if it’s not working they want to know we have the ability to tweak it and make sure it does work,” Ulibarri-Keller said.

A June 2013 New Mexico Health Department report tracked statistic relating to substance abuse deaths throughout the state’s 33 counties. Per capita Socorro County ranked fourth in alcohol related deaths, eighth in illegal drug use deaths and 14th in prescription drug deaths.

In other business, the council:

• Listened as private citizens and elected officials expresse concern over Socorro Electric Cooperative refusal to allow former co-op members to cash out capital credits in a timely manner, once they leave the co-op. The comments will help guide the council as it drafts a franchise agreement to give the utility legal access to alleyways and streets.

• Unanimously approved an agreement with Dennis Engineering Company for additional engineering services to finish the final phase of the Jo Gallegos Road construction project. The engineering services for the final phase is expected to cost the city just under $28,000. Once the agreement is signed the project should be finished in 75 days.

• Unanimously approved adding a $400,000 request to the Infrastructure Capital Improvement Plan. Mayor Ravi Bhasker said it would be wise to put the request on the city’s ICIP since the governor has expressed an interest with helping municipalities with water and waste water issues.

• Learned the city of Socorro has issued 58 building permits since January 2013. The city’s planning and zoning department issued a total of 5 permits for new construction, three for residential homes and two for commercial buildings.

• Learned that four new businesses have registered in the city of Socorro in recent weeks. Allen Douglas Construction Company, Girly Girl women’s clothing shop, L&R Communication and Construction Inc. and Diebold Inc. Sales and Service of Financial Equipment.

 

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