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Commissioners cover cost of office overhaul for crisis response team

by DERRICK PERKINS
Daily Inter Lake | March 29, 2022 7:00 AM

Commissioners agreed last week to use $2,000 in payment in lieu of taxes funds to cover the refurbishment of office space for the county’s fledgling crisis intervention team.

The monies came at the request of Judge Jay Sheffield of justice court and Vanessa Williamson of the county’s probation office. The pair said the office, located inside the county’s Mineral Avenue annex building, would house records and serve as workspace for a forthcoming care coordinator.

Sheffield said the vacant room was perfect for the team as it is located directly across from his office and shared a door with the probation department. But “the carpeting there is original to the building; it’s got big splits in it.”

The office formerly housed the county’s weed department, officials said.

“We thought, as it was completely empty, it would be a good time to replace the carpeting with something similar to what we did downstairs,” Sheffield told commissioners on March 23.

He said he had lined up volunteers to help repaint as well. Carpeting installation would run the county $1,752, Sheffield said. Adding in the cost of paint and associated supplies, he put the final figure at $1,902.

Commissioners looked kindly upon the request, rounding the allotment up to $2,000 to account for any extra expenses. County Commissioner Brent Teske (D-1) made the motion. County Commissioner Josh Letcher (D-3) offered a second. The vote was unanimous.

“That building does really need some work,” said County Commissioner Jerry Bennett (D-2).

Bennett, who is not running for reelection, said he hoped to put together a plan to tackle other necessary repairs in the annex building before departing office.

“Budget season is coming up,” he said. “Maybe we can look at doing some of that to where it at least looks professional when you’re walking in there.”

Sheffield welcomed the suggestion.

“This thing has been 14 different offices over time,” he said. “It was never a purpose-built building.”

Sheffield said he and Williamson had corralled up furniture for when the refurbishment project wraps up. As for the new hire, the pair said a state grant was covering the position.

“I’m just glad to see the state funding that position and be beneficial,” Bennett said.

Lincoln County launched its crisis response team last fall with Williamson spearheading the effort. Gaining in popularity, the teams employ mental health providers and dispatch them alongside other first responders to incidents involving mental illness or substance abuse.

“I think it’s already been a great success and we’re just five or six months into it,” Sheffield told commissioners.