Each year for the next five years, Stillwater County will have $100,000 to fight substance abuse, thanks to a Drug-Free Communities Support Program Grant awarded last week.
Stillwater County was one of three Montana counties and 227 entities nationwide to receive money through the program, said Robin Morris, president of Morris and Morris, a private grant-writing corporation based in Columbus. The other Montana counties were Gallatin and Richland Counties.
"Why in Stillwater County?" Morris said. "The drug rate in Stillwater County is consistently higher than all of the state (Montana) averages."
Morris says substance abuse includes the misuse of alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, inhalants and other drugs by youth or adults.
Stillwater County's application also received a boost from a drug prevention effort initiated in 2000. The effort, which eventually fizzled for lack of funding, resulted in the formation of the Stillwater Community Coalition.
Morris, an experienced grant-writer, was also key, said Stillwater County Commissioner Maureen Davey. Before moving to Columbus this year, Morris twice secured funding from the same grant for the community of Havre.
Morris said the program in Stillwater County will take a multifaceted approach to address family, school, community and individual or peer goals. Many of the project goals will center on the introduction of after-school programming. The funding will also allow the Stillwater County Coalition to hire four part-time staff members to be located throughout the county.
To launch the drug-free campaign, organizers invite the public to attend a community forum at 2 p.m. Oct. 19 at the Columbus City Hall Courtroom. The Drug-Free Communities Support Program is a collaborative effort between the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Executive Office of the President.