Multicounty drug court in the works
BAKERSVILLE – The Mitchell County Board of Commissioners at its regular meeting Thursday, Sept. 6, signed a domestic violence resolution, received an update about the town of Bakersville, unanimously approved a memorandum of understanding between Mitchell, Madison and Yancey counties for the establishment of a drug treatment court and announced tax collector Brian Garland has resigned.
An approved memorandum of understanding is the first step to establishing a drug treatment court. The coordinator of the services will work with all three counties and will be employed by an outside agency.
County Manager Kathy Young said the drug treatment court is the most cost-effective way to offer such a service in the county.
“I do feel like this is the cheapest way for us to go,” she said.
Mitchell County will contribute $25,000 per year in quarterly payments. The county can terminate at any time with 60 days’ notice.
The program, which is aimed at first-time drug offenders, can be used as a sentence for offenders or can be used by first-time offenders to expunge their record upon completion of the program.
Commissioner Jacob Willis said it will pay dividends and will keep people from becoming repeat offenders, stuck in a “revolving door of jail time.”
“This will keep people out of jail,” he said. “It will save us money.”
The board also signed a resolution verifying the county supports Mitchell County SafePlace and officially makes October “Domestic Violence Awareness Month” locally.
Board Chair Matthew “Vern” Grindstaff encouraged all those in attendance to consider supporting SafePlace through its “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” event scheduled for Oct. 6.
Representatives from SafePlace attended the meeting and thanked the board for its support. The SafePlace representatives gave each board member a pair of red high heels – identical to the ones that will be used during “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” – to wear during a group picture.
“We urge all residents of Mitchell County to join us in support of SafePlace,” Grindstaff said. “We ask all citizens and public officials to join us in raising awareness of the awful effects of domestic violence.”
Bakersville Town Council member Jordon Baker gave the board an update on the town’s social media and marketing and Bakersville Mayor Chuck Vines offered a general update about the town.
Baker said the town is introducing a newsletter that will serve to inform people who don’t frequently use social media. He passed out copies of the most recent newsletter to the board.
“It tackles a wide range of subjects,” Baker said about the newsletter.
Baker added the town’s Facebook has about 920 likes and continues to grow.
Vines said the town’s water project has finally been funded and permitted and will begin soon. The town was awarded the grant funds for the project in 2015.
The $2 million infrastructure project will install new wells, replace old water lines and add new meters and devices for tracking water usage.
“We’re finally there,” Vines said. “We’re just waiting on the new plans. We are moving along as quickly as possible.”
The project will go out to bid in multiple contracts to speed up the project completion, Vines added.
Garland, who served as tax collector for nearly 20 years, announced his resignation before the regular meeting. Grindstaff said the board would appoint a new tax collector soon.
“We appreciate all of Brian’s efforts,” Grindstaff said. “He’s our friend and will be missed in this county in that particular role.”