Annually, Harvey County is required to split its liquor tax revenues among three recipients — a special parks fund, the general fund and a special alcohol and drug program fund to be used for alcohol and drug-related programs in the county.
Typically, those funds (about $3,500) have been split between Prairie View and Mirror Inc. in the past. However, upon reaching out to Des Martens, Mirror's director of preventative services, a new option was brought before the county commission on Monday by county administrator Anthony Swartzendruber, who presented an allocation proposal that filters that special alcohol and drug program funding into STAND, a club established in all Harvey County high schools, for 2019.
STAND offers high school students from all backgrounds the opportunity to be active participants in their communities and schools to create positive change. Youths gain valuable leadership skills, are empowered to design service projects that meet a community need, network with community leaders and carry out peer-to-peer prevention/education messages, as well as positive social norms campaigns. Each leader involved with STAND becomes a positive social influence by promoting healthy decision making, connection and trust among their peer groups, creating a positive culture. STAND clubs, made up of teams of peer leaders and students in county high schools, meet weekly or monthly to promote healthy decisions and reduce substance use in their peers.
"(It) positively impacts youth throughout Harvey County, prevents substance abuse and things of that nature," Swartzendruber said.
"We'd like the money. We certainly have things to do with it," said STAND board president and Newton High School student Eli Redington.
Redington noted that while the organization's substance abuse prevention programs have skewed younger in its first few years, STAND is looking to address usage issues — especially marijuana — at the high school level in 2019-2020.
Programming put on by STAND has taken a wide range of forms since it was started, from educational parent nights within local school districts to outreach programs targeted toward students to informational sessions at community events.
Born from work of the public/private partnership in Harvey County to enhance drug prevention efforts, commission chairman Chip Westfall remarked on how far STAND (and the county) has come in just a few years.
"We've come from almost having nothing to being a leading organization in the state," Westfall said. "This isn't one thing here or there anywhere in the county. It is everywhere in the schools."
Currently, with the given fund balance, the allocation available for 2019 totals $4,500, which the commission approved to go towards the STAND program — something in which the administration and commission see a great deal of value.
"What I liked about this program is that it's youth-driven — it's in all the schools in Harvey County," Swartzendruber said.
"And it's part of intervention," Commissioner Randy Hague said. "If you can prevent it, you don't have the treatment."
In other business, the county commission:
• Was updated on another round of flooding, with maximum rainfall accumulations of 7.54 inches recorded in Walton over a two-day period, according to emergency management director Gary Denny. Denny also stated that no end date on the state disaster declaration has been declared yet, while 53 counties (including Harvey County) are now included among the presidential emergency declaration. Emergency responders, it was noted, had to execute two water rescues following the latest rounds of storms, which also closed down Harvey County East Park again.
• Received a report on utilization numbers of area workforce agencies in Harvey County.
• Learned that the armored rescue vehicle for the Harvey County Emergency Response Team will be ready for pick up on July 9. Additionally, the potential of putting together a formal contractual agreement (instead of a pledge letter) was discussed regarding the funding for the vehicle that has been committed by the Friends of the ERT.
• Noted the postponement of the horse trail scavenger hunt to June 29 at East Park because of the recent weather.
• Appointed Marilyn Loganbill and Mary Gill to the Harvey-Marion County Community Developmental Disability Organization board, waiving second reading.
• Approved the reappointment of Brittany Welch, Ron Hoffman and Cynda Conrade to the parks advisory board.
• Approved the Health Department fees (including costs associated with vaccinations, STD screenings, etc.) to go into effect July 1, 2019.
• Approved a letter to be written to the city of Newton to consider allowing the The Bard to establish a temporary beer garden on site for the Harvey County Free Fair.