Commission briefed on diversion program and QRT response

Tim Walker
AMR Reporter

At the September 1 Pocahontas County Commission meeting, Marcie Vaughan, CEO of Seneca Health Services, introduced Travis Butts and Rick Martin who spoke about Seneca’s Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion Program, or LEAD.

Butts explained that the LEAD program is a pre-booking diversion program. Law enforcement officers who arrest an individual for a non-violent, low level crime, but determine a cause for the crime was substance abuse, may use officer discretion and, as an alternative to criminal charges, may offer to enroll them in Seneca Health’s LEAD program. If the arrested person agrees to enter the program, the officer puts them in touch with the LEAD Coordinator who will offer them recovery services. The officer is kept posted on the person’s progress, but if the arrested person becomes non-compliant with the program the officer is notified to go ahead with the original charges. The services the LEAD program offers include referral to behavioral health treatment such as medically managed withdrawal; outpatient or residential treatment.

Martin, who runs Seneca’s Quick Response Team – or QRT, explained that the QRT team, when referred by EMS personnel, family or friends of an overdose victim, responds within 72 hours, to the drug overdose victim and will offer that person treatment or other services.

In other business, the commission heard from:

• John Tuggle, Executive Director of the Region 4 Planning and Development Council, who gave an update on the status of the Reconnect Broadband Grant, which, if approved, will provide broadband Internet to much of northern Pocahontas County, including Marlinton, Cass and Durbin. Tuttle said that an announcement on the approval of that grant could come “any day.”

• former Marlinton Middle School principal Dustin Lambert, who now works for the State Board of Education and is a member of the Governor’s Census Count Committee. Lambert said that when you add the number of Pocahontas County residents who self-reported their census information to the number who provided their information in person to census enumerators, he believes the county will be well represented. He said that the state of West Virginia currently has an overall 93% census response, which is second best in the nation. Lambert said the census will continue to collect data from residents until September 30, and that a lot of federal money for the state, as well as keeping all three of the state’s members of the US House of Representatives depends on the number of people who respond to the census.

• an annual report from Pocahontas County Senior Citizens director John Simmons. Simmons reported that the program is doing its job, providing meals, transportation and homemaker services to the county’s seniors. He said that with the coming of the pandemic, their services had to change. They could no longer permit coming of the pandemic, their services had to change. They could no longer permit seniors to dine inside the senior centers, instead, they offer “grab and go” hot lunches. He said some of these need to be delivered to people who are unable to pick them up in person. He said the virus has also canceled a lot of their medical appointment transports because those appointments have been canceled.

In addition, the commission

• approved a request from the American Lung Association to use the former shoe factory building for over-night storage of bicycles on October 30.

• approved a letter of support for Dark Sky Designation for Watoga State Park.

• appointed Jason Scotchie to the remainder of Michael Riggsby’s three-year term on the Local Emergency Planning Committee, which will expire on September 20, 2022.

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