Catawba County is seeking two grants — one to help people avoid a return to jail and one to add amenities to the new Mountain Creek Park in Sherrills Ford.
Catawba County and Catawba Valley Behavioral Healthcare are applying for a grant for up to $900,000 over three years to help keep people out of jail and lower jail recidivism — the number of people who return to jail or commit crimes after being released from jail.
The $300,000 per year Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant and Substance Abuse Site‐Based Program grant would come from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance if the county’s grant application is approved, Assistant County Manager Mary Furtado said at Monday’s Catawba County Board of Commissioners subcommittee meeting.
The money would help the county and Catawba Valley Behavioral Healthcare expand programs with law enforcement, the jail and former inmates. The grant would assist people during incarceration or recovery treatment and after release with the goal of preventing incarceration, Furtado said.
One of the main benefits of the grant would be to help people find housing after they are released from jail or an abuse recovery program, Furtado said. “As people transition out of jail or out of recovery, they don’t really have a place to go,” Furtado said. “You go back to people you were with before. … You don’t really have a chance to break that pattern.”
The grant would allow the county and Catawba Valley Behavioral Healthcare to create an eight-month recovery program that would include housing.
The program would have several apartments available for four participants at a time to live in for up to 120 days. There would be a case manager on site to help them stay sober and follow a treatment plan that could include getting benefits, applying for jobs, getting job training, going to school, finding transportation and more.
Even after housing, the grant would help participants follow their treatment program.
The grant would also help fund a Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion case manager at the Hickory Police Department. The position has been in place for two years but grant funding ends soon, Furtado said. The new grant would fund the case manager position and a peer counselor to help people through the program.
The grant would also put money toward transportation, food, and utilities. An added component would be education for correctional officers to identify potential participants for the re-entry housing program.
In an attempt to get more amenities built in the first phase of construction at the new Mountain Creek Park, the county is apply for a $438,600 Parks and Recreation Trust Fund grant.
The county would put up a match of $635,000 in money already going toward the park, according to information from the county.
The grant would pay for a planned fishing pier, kayak access, observation deck and adventure playground to act as a match for the grant, which would pay for a pickleball court, a mountain bike pump track, a mountain bike trail segment and an asphalt trail.
The projects were already planned for the park but applying for the PART-F grant now would get the projects done sooner, according to the county.
County Manager Mick Berry presented a complete budget for fiscal year 2020-21, which starts July 1, at the special meeting on Monday. The $242.2 million budget is a 4.1 percent decrease from the current year budget, $10.4 million less, Berry said.
The budget accounts for an expected $3.3 million decrease in revenue growth due to COVID-19. The county is still expecting a 1.5 percent increase in total revenue but is planning for less than expected prior to the pandemic. Berry said the county expects a sales tax revenue decrease.
The budget includes $3.4 million toward a spec building at Trivium Corporate Center, a 2 percent per-pupil increase in funding for schools, $5.5 million in school capital improvements, $329,000 to run the animal shelter under the county rather than the Humane Society of Catawba County and $140,000 for two shift supervisors for emergency services to be added in April.