Department of Health officials last month gave the Lincoln County Council of Commissioners just over $ 300,000 on the wish list for American Rescue Plan Act money.
The three-page document includes expenses for vehicles, data systems, an air curtain burner for the landfill, and an anti-bullying campaign, among others. A request for $ 2.29 million for a soon-needed county landfill expansion has been set aside, but still urgent. “None of this was really new,” said department head Kathi Hooper, winking at recent conversations between her staff and county commissioners. The air curtain burner is the most expensive item on the list, estimated at $ 135,000. Wood waste received at the Libby landfill is currently going through a chipper.
This is because the landfill is in the Libby Air Quality Control District, which limits options for burning excess material.
An air curtain burner removes wood waste without affecting air quality and can be used year round. While shredding worked as a solution, the end product takes up space in the landfill, Hooper said. She stressed that the county would no longer need to spend money to repair the shredder.
A proposed mobile resource van cost approximately $ 95,000. Hooper provided the vehicle to allow department staff to speed up their work. âThe goal of having this outreach center would be to improve our public health program in hard-to-reach areas,â Hooper said. âIt would be equipped with nursing equipment to administer vaccines to adults and children as well as for various other health programs. “
Hooper said the van could double-serve with other county agencies. If the health department organized a vaccination clinic in Yaak, library staff could join us, she said. She also requested funding for one or more staff vehicles. The ministry has three vehicles used for inspections, nursing and Zero to Five programs. Two – a 2007 Buick and a 2012 Ford Escape – need to be replaced, she said. Hooper did not offer a cost estimate for the proposal, citing fluctuations in the used car market.
Other elements were aimed at improving the efficiency of the department. An electronic health record, intended to facilitate immunizations, nursing services and public health surveillance, would cost approximately $ 20,000.
âEverything we do is greedy on paper,â said Jennifer McCully, public health officer for the county. “It’s old school and [results in] too many mistakes and human errors and lost income.
A performance management system cost about $ 3,000. An online inspection system for licensed establishments, intended to streamline the process for staff and businesses, would cost around $ 10,000 with a monthly fee of $ 400. As for public awareness, the ministry wants between $ 10,000 and $ 15,000 for mental health first aid. According to the proposal, the ministry would send three people for training in mental health. Hooper hoped to partner with school districts in the area. If the ministry certified someone to provide mental health first aid training in Lincoln County, the cost would increase by about $ 3,000. It is estimated that an additional $ 15,000 would go to finding and implementing a community bullying program.
Two other initiatives completed the list.
Hooper and McCully have requested about $ 5,000 for an online resource guide.
Organizations in the region, including the health department, are endlessly discussing resource guides, the couple said.
Many end up sitting on a shelf somewhere.
âOur dream has always been an app that the community, law enforcement, etc. can access when working with their clients,â the document read.
As an example, McCully said that an area law enforcement officer using a website or app could display it on a call and find resources available in the area, such as for food or vaccinations.
âThis is something that all of our partners would benefit from,â she told the Commissioners.
Another $ 10,000 would go to a healthy homes program. The initiative would address environmental health risks in Lincoln County homes, including radon, asbestos and mold, as well as water supply systems and lead.
Not included in the list of funding requests, but noted in the document: a $ 2 million grant through the American Rescue Plan Act for the landfill expansion, although they initially requested about $ 2.9 million of dollars.
âI didn’t include it in our top 10, but of course it’s a priority,â she said.
Officials estimate that it will cost around $ 5.79 million to create a new cell for the area’s waste and have already set aside $ 1.5 million for the project. That leaves roughly $ 2.29 million in funding outstanding.
“I’m not asking that this come entirely from ARPA, but just to inform you,” Hooper told commissioners. Looking at the list, County Commissioner Brent Teske (D-1) said he sees a need for most requests. “Some of these recommendations will certainly alleviate some of these other problems, like waste chips,” he said.
âMental health first aid – it’s huge right now. “
He urged Hooper and McCully to double-check and triple-check that spending met ARPA’s spending guidelines.
County Commissioners Jerry Bennett (D-2) and Josh Letcher (D-3) echoed Teske. âAs people know, if we don’t spend this money properly, we have to pay it back,â Bennett said.
âIf we spend it, we don’t have the money to pay it back.
The health department is largely funded through grants, contracts, landfill fees and the sale of recyclables, among other sources of income. In the fiscal year ending in 2020, general county funds represented less than 5% of the department’s budget.
Later in October, the commissioners set aside $ 90,000 in federal bailout dollars for the mobile resource van. They also approved spending for the interagency resource guide and $ 3,000 for the performance management system at a meeting on October 27th.