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Behavorial health, radio communications, Dana Park, library restrooms on county's docket

Henderson County would continue funding a behavorial health system coordinator in its public health department and would buy upgraded communications capacity at three sites, an excavator and snow removal equipment and improvements at Dana Park Community Center if the Board of Commissioners votes to appropriate several state grants on Tuesday.

During their first meeting of the new year on Tuesday night, commissioners are expected to approve the state money, which was allocated to Henderson County in this year's legislative session. Seven separate requests are included on the consent agenda, which contains noncontroversial, routine matters that don't require discussion or debate. The 2023-24 budget adopted by the North Carolina General Assembly included $37 million in 18 separate grants for public water and sewer, flood resiliency, emergency services, rural fire & rescue departments and nonprofits in Henderson County.

Numerous public health and mental health providers called on County Manager John Mitchell to continue the behavorial health system coordinator position in the Department of Public Health after the current coordinator, Jodi Grabowski, transitioned to a lead role in the county manager's office managing the use of the county's opioid litigation funds.

The Partnership for Health's chair said while it was excited about the benefit the opioid settlement could bring, "we also see the enormous coordination and progress that's been made to address the growing substance abuse and mental health challenges out community faces," Partnership Chair Elizabeth Moss wrote in a letter to Mitchell. Dr. Maddalena S. Hayes, chair of the Board of Health, also urged the county to maintain the position. The position that became vacant with Grabowski's transition to the county manager's office would be funded with opioid settlement money if commissioners OK the consent agenda item.

Other state grants include:

  • Emergency management public safety radio system at Naples, Blue Ridge Community College and UNC Health Pardee, $1 million.
  • Excavator to "assist with urgent repairs at county facilities" and a utility vehicle for snow removal during emergency response calls, $105,000.
  • Remodel kitchen and replace flooring at Dana Park Community Center, $120,000.
  • Renovation of rest rooms and related improvements at the main branch of the Henderson County library, $40,000.

Requests from the county's fund balance would pay to extend the license to upload 30,000 images in the Baker Barber Collection and make them available to the public, $17,182; and to cover repair of an ambulance, $9,585.