Drug Court grant funds recommended for approval


A resolution that would provide funding to match a federal grant for the Jefferson County Adult Drug Court won approval from two committees of the county’s legislative body Tuesday night.

Without dissent, the Public Safety/Emergency Services and Finance Committees of the Quorum Court voted for the resolution, which calls for providing $10,000 to help the drug court fulfill a match requirement for the grant from the U.S. Justice Department.

First Division Circuit Judge Berlin Jones, who runs the adult drug court, said the areas they plan to target if the grant is received include training for the Drug Court Team, improved job placement and training services for participants, and supplies to conduct more community service and family bonding activities.

In a letter Jones sent to County Judge Mike Holcomb and members of the Quorum Court last week, Jones said the funds would also be used to implement a Veterans Drug Court, but during committee meetings Tuesday, that proposal was taken out of the proposed resolution.

Daniel Marks, legislative assistant to Holcomb, said a representative from the Veterans Administration approached Jones and the judges’ staff last week about the possibility of the VA providing funds for the court.

“They have a Veterans Court in Little Rock and they want to do one here,” Marks said.

He said people who have served in the military and have not been charged with a violent crime who are eligible for drug court would be seen here, with the VA picking up the bill for the program.

“They see it as a way to get veterans who need help into the VA system,” Marks said.

In a letter dated Monday, Jones said some of the funds from the grant would be used to hire a full-time employment specialist to assist drug court participants find employment.

“As you are well aware, the drug court has been successful as a more cost efficient and effective alternative to incarceration,” Jones said. “It has truly helped the participants, their families, and the county for nearly eight years.”

In addition to the $10,000 from the county, Jones said the adult drug court would provide “in-kind services” to help satisfy the federal match requirements.

Also Tuesday, the county’s legislative body recommended that David Price be reappointed to the Jefferson Regional Medical Services Board for five years, and appoint Gary Don Gray to the 9-1-1 Administrative Board to serve the remainder of the term of Steve Ferren, who resigned.

A proposed $8,555 appropriation that would increase Marks’ salary because of his additional responsibility as grants director was also recommended for approval.

Holcomb said Marks’ salary was increased last year, but during the budgeting process this year, the increase was overlooked, adding that to date, Marks has successfully obtained approximately $400,000 in grants for the county.