MARINETTE — Marinette County has received a grant of nearly $80,000 which will enable it to create a case manager position that will substantially increase the capacity of its Treatment Drug Court, a jubilant Health and Human Services Director Robin Elsner told the HHS Board on Wednesday.

“I got an email from the Department of Justice,” he said. “I’m pretty excited. We received the additional TAD (Treatment Alternatives Diversion) funding. Sara Plansky-Pecor has been working 50-hour weeks consistently as the TAD coordinator.”

Elsner said, “I think this position will help her in this program and give the county a really solid drug court program. It’s solid right now, but I think having this new position and getting the full funding for it without any levy is a very positive thing.”

The program that is presided over by Judge James Morrison recently celebrated its fifth year of existence.

“I’m very pumped up about this,” Elsner said. “Next month I will be creating a job description and will be getting John’s (Lefebvre, county administrator) support on this. We’ll be asking to create a new manager position for the Treatment Drug Court. We met the conditions of the grant, it’s very exciting.”

HHS Board member and County Supervisor Gail Wanek asked Elsner how much the grant and new position would add to the capacity of the court.

“We believe we can take on 10 more participants,” Elsner said. “We’ve running at about 19 or 20 and that’s pretty overwhelming for Sara. But we think we can go higher.”

He explained that Plansky-Pecor has to do the “high-level stuff” like the assessments to admit persons into the program and that she should be able to continue to do that.

“The case manager would be doing more case management, like with participants at Anthony House, when they go there in the beginning, and other case management things that are necessary,” Elsner said. 

He said “I’m very happy about this, I’ve finally gotten more funding. It’s needed. We continue to get referrals and work with people.”

Elsner said he requested $85,000 from the new grant and received a total of $78,213. He earlier said he was confident the original grant of $125,000 for the program that the county has received in the past would be renewed.

“They’re not funding the training request,” he said. “But they’re funding the case manager at the full $44,803 and the employee benefits.”

Later at Wednesday’s HHS Board meeting, Elsner said the Mental Health Court “is up and running with six participants” and that the funding for the case manager position for that program is halftime and should remain that.

“I feel a halftime case manager can manage that program with up to 10 participants,” he said. “If we get over that, I might have to have a discussion with John (Lefebvre) about that. At this point, I don’t think it’s warranted because we don’t have enough participants. We just got three referrals. Two of them are accepted, that should put us to eight. But they have to agree to do that. Both of them could benefit from it ,but they might not want it. You would need to take medication and follow all treatment recommendations.”

Also at Wednesday’s meeting:

¦ Elsner said Share Academy, a group home for juveniles in the Town of Peshtigo run by Advocates for Healthy Transitional Living, is continuing to do well.

“We continue to have six permanent residents,” he said. “We filled the (other) two beds with crisis situations recently so we have the ability if a juvenile either has a mental health crisis or a behavioral issue where they’re not arrested, which would warrant them to be sent to secure. We’ve used that so we’ve been able to divert some juveniles from sending then to secure facilities out of the county, which is a positive thing.”

¦ Public Health Officer Molly Bonjean reported that next Thursday will be the first day of operation of a satellite location for the LifePoint Needle Exchange program in partnership with the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin (ARCW), located in the basement of the HHS Building.

She said earlier this year “We are going to start off with every Thursday from 9 to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. Additional days could be scheduled depending on the number of clients each week.”

The needle exchange program and other services will be provided free of charge. She said a prevention specialist of the ARCW from Green Bay will be at the satellite location in Marinette once a month in the ARCW mobile van to do Hepatitis C and HIV testing and training and distribution of NARCAN, a nasal spray for emergency treatment of known or suspected opioid overdoses.

“It’s been a long-time coming,” she said Wednesday. “We’re excited to get that going.”