GREENFIELD — Hancock County officials are chipping in $23,000 to pay the director’s salary for Neighborhoods Against Substance Abuse to keep the organization from having to take those funds from local causes it supports.
The Hancock County Board of Commissioners recently voted to pay the entire $46,000 salary of Tim Retherford, director of NASA, the organization bringing together nearly 20 schools, public safety departments and government agencies to address issues of drug and alcohol abuse in the community.
The county funds will prevent the organization from having to reduce its programs aimed at education, prevention and treatment of substance abuse in Hancock County, officials said.
From 2009 to 2015, the county had paid for half of Retherford’s salary with the other half covered by a federal Drug Free Communities Support Grant, but last year, the county picked up the other half when the grant ended, said county commissioner Brad Armstrong.
Though NASA has been granted another five-year federal grant, the county will continue to pay 100 percent of Retherford’s salary from the general fund because of a misunderstanding between the county commissioners and the organization, Armstrong said.
NASA had already budgeted to put the entirety of its federal grant toward $27,000 in programs, including the underage drinking task force and prescription drug disposal boxes, and when they realized the commissioners planned to bump their support back down to 50 percent, they persuaded county officials to keep footing the bill for Retherford’s salary, Armstrong said.
County officials originally cut the $23,000 from the budget to to free up funding for the 2 percent raises county employees are expected to receive in 2018. The county council agreed last week to continue paying Retherford’s entire salary to prevent losing drug and alcohol prevention and education programs.
The programs NASA supports in the county are critically important, especially in the face of rising use of opioid drugs, Armstrong said.
NASA uses both federal grant funding and fees from drug and alcohol offenders in Hancock County to support organizations that address drug and alcohol use. Some of those include the Celebrate Recovery support group at Brandywine Community Church and court-ordered treatment programs for people charged with drug and alcohol offenses, Retherford said.
And Retherford’s role is a much-needed in leading those efforts, said NASA board member Dede Allender.
“It’s very important for the county to support him, and I’m pleased they were willing to do that,” Allender said.