Hancock County Judge Trent Favre on Monday announced to the Hancock County Board of Supervisors the award of a $750,000 grant from the Department of Justice to expand youth court’s treatment resources.

“We take a therapeutic approach to parents and children,” Favre said. “We rely on third parties to assess from drug disorders and treatments.”

Favre said that assessments can be completed quicker in-house.

If the patient requires inpatient services, those can be identified, and then can be discharged back to the county’s program, he said. Also, depending on the patient’s needs, staff will be able to customize an outpatient treatment.

The grant funding will be utilized to provide for what Favre describes as the most “profound” piece of the treatment services, a medical doctor. The MD won’t be an employee with the county, but rather the county will enter into an agreement with Tulane Medical Center, which should happen within the next month or two.

Favre said the county is hiring a licensed clinical social worker as well as a program coordinator.

“Assessing patients and making recommendations is significant because most drug courts don’t provide a medical doctor,” Favre said.

For instance, parents who have a problem with substance abuse and also a mental health disorder will be able to receive treatment for both those diagnoses.

Treating the addiction, but not treating the things that cause the addiction, does not help a patient maintain his or her sobriety, Favre said.

“The county is basically setting up a clinic for parents involved in youth court,” he said.

The current grant is for three years, Favre said, but it is possible to find other grants to sustain this model. Other funding may come from donors, he added. None of the funds are coming from the county’s budget, he said.

Favre said the county will have to present a sustainability plan near the end of the three years.

“Since it’s a clinic, it can eventually be set up to where it’s billable,” Favre said.

With the addition of the staff, Favre said, the youth court will need additional space.

The county is considering moving the youth court to the county complex area. In addition, the county is also deciding where to relocate MS State Extension Services, Soil & Water Conservation, and the Hancock County Probation Office.

In other action:

Hancock County Food Pantry Director Marshall Kyger presented the pantry’s annual report to the board on Monday. The pantry will soon celebrate it’s 35th year in operation, he said. The pantry provides food and personal hygiene products for families in need of assistance. Due to the pandemic, the pantry’s new hours are currently Tuesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to noon. It is a non-profit and 100 percent volunteer run. More than 94 percent of the funds are used to purchase food to give away, he said.

The pantry is located in a county-owned facility, located at 9972 Hwy. 603.

In 2020, Kyger said the pantry received a “record” number of contributions totaling $344,078.

The COVID-19 pandemic changed how the pantry operates, he said. It is now open two days a week versus five; families remain in their vehicles and food is delivered; daily capability more than doubled; with the increase in donations, the pantry doubled the amount of purchased food supplied to families; and spent $228,780 on food from local grocers.

The pantry also received 35,705 pounds of donated food from the community; 45,029 pounds of free USDA food from Twelve Baskets Food Bank; and 229,776 pounds of recovered food from a local grocer and two military commissaries, he said.

Kyger said that the pantry provided free food and personal hygiene items to 11,428 individuals during 6,350 family visits in 2020.

The board approved a Resolution Evidencing Intent to Issue, in one or more series (I) General Obligation Bonds of the County, (II) A General Obligation Bond of the county for sale to the Mississippi Development Bank, all in a total aggregate principal amount not to exceed $9 million. The resolution was duly published and there’s no written protest or other objection against the issuance of said bonds. The funds will be utilized for raising Beach Boulevard from Lakeshore Road to the Silver Slipper Casino. There is no tax increase expected with the issuance of the bond.

The board approved a resolution determining the necessity for Tax Increment Financing, determining that the “Diamondhead Medical Center Project is a project eligible for TIFF under the laws of the state.” The board set a public hearing for May 3 at 1:30 p.m.

The board approved a motion recognizing April as Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month. CASA Executive Director said that there are currently 68 children in foster care in Hancock County.

The board also approved declaring April as National Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

The next meeting is scheduled for Monday, April, 19 at 9 a.m.

A public hearing regarding the safety hazard properties, located at 16042 Dayton Dr. W. Pearlington, and 16070 Old Joe Moran Rd., Kiln is scheduled for April 19 at 1:30 p.m.

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