DWI Task Force denied again

by Chelle Delaney: Quay County Sun

After meeting with the Quay County Commission on Friday, the county’s DWI program is without a fiscal agent.

The county could not take any official action because its meeting was set up as a work session.

Members of the DWI Task Force, an advisory group to the DWI program, and the program’s coordinator, Noreen Hendrickson, discussed the program’s necessity for a fiscal agent. At its Jan. 19 meeting, the commission said it could not act as the program’s fiscal agent, effective July 1, because it took the county too many man hours to provide financial oversight.

Because the commission could not take action to renew its status as fiscal agent, the DWI program could not meet its Friday deadline for a grant application and lost the opportunity to apply for $80,000 from the Department of Finance Administration, Hendrickson said.

The grant would have funded programs in the new fiscal year, including requests from area law enforcement agencies, compliance and other programs, beginning July 1, 2007-June 30, 2008, she said.

District Attorney Don Schutte, who also attended the meeting, asked if there weren’t duplication of services between the Maternal Child and Community Health (MCCH) Council and Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention (ASAP) and DWI programs, and if it wasn’t possible that one of the other two programs could become the fiscal agent for the DWI program.

Alida Brown, coordinator of MCCH, said there was not a duplication of services and that the three agencies did a broad scope of work.

Commissioner Bill Curry said he could not decipher the DWI program’s statistics and saw little evidence of treatment or rehabilitation. Hendrickson said she could provide the commission with treatment and recidivism records from the DWI program.

Pam Tompkins, chairman of the DWI Task Force, said the task force had been afraid to talk to the commission since its exchange with the commission about a non-profit agency, CASA, Inc.

In the spring of last year, the commission authorized the district attorney’s office to seek the return of more than $35,000 from the task force. Commissioners alleged that task force officials improperly transferred $35,756, acquired mostly from donations, to a private non-profit company, CASA, Inc., court records show.

Hendrickson was been placed on paid administrative leave and was later reinstated as coordinator.

At the time, Schutte said, “I don’t think that anybody (on the Task Force) was doing anything wrong. It’s just that we are wanting to make sure there’s a public oversight.”

After hiring its own attorney, CASA turned over its money to the county.