County set to sponsor block grant

Friday, January 20, 2006

BENTON -- Scott County will sponsor Mission Missouri for a Community Development Block Grant after hearing concerns about the program it will support.

Scott County Commissioners approved the application during their regular meeting Thursday.

During the open hearing required for a CDBG application, Mike Jensen, publisher of the Standard Democrat newspaper, expressed concerns regarding the program the grant will support.

"We had some concerns echoed about this maybe being a magnet drawing people outside of our community instead of taking care of the people in our area, which is who we are trying to service," said Commissioner Dennis Ziegenhorn.

If the grant is approved, the money will be used to finish the other half of the House of Liberty building, according to Janie Pfefferkorn, director of Mission Missouri.

The House of Liberty, formerly a 60-room nursing home which was donated to Mission Missouri in March 1999, is a facility where participants in the Crossings addiction recovery program can temporarily reside while they wait for treatment or re-engagement in society.

Through outreach, case management, education and mentoring, the Crossings program provides free assistance to addicted individuals and their families in Scott, Mississippi, New Madrid, Stoddard, Pemiscot, Cape Girardeau, Ripley, Butler and Dunklin counties.

"We want to provide the service, get these people back as productive people and help them with their affliction, but we had some concerns about it drawing people that are not in our area," Ziegenhorn said.

Pfefferkorn said applicants are reviewed and the program does not accept everyone who applies.

"They have the option to reject people and there are criteria which must be met to be accepted into the home," Ziegenhorn said. "It's a good program, Janie Pfefferkorn is doing a good job with what she is doing. The program is needed."

The main concern is that the program could possibly encourage people with drug problems to relocate here and, not being gainfully employed, to then sign up for other assistance, placing an even heavier burden on local taxpayers.

"We don't need to bring people in from other areas for these services," Ziegenhorn said. "We're trying to take care of our own in Scott County."

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