County has focus for federal funds

Published: Wednesday, January 23, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 23, 2008 at 12:14 a.m.

Coming off a lean year in capturing federal money, Alachua County will focus its 2008 efforts on securing cash for after school programs, the homeless and drug-addicted, and mentally ill jail inmates, commissioners decided Tuesday.

F. Marion Turner, the county's Washington lobbyist, said the county got one 2007 earmark for $118,000 for the proposed No Wrong Door program, which is aimed at getting people with mental illness or addictions out of jail.

"It was a rough year in terms of overall appropriations. Scrutiny over federal spending was greatly increased," Turner said. "Everything took a little bit of a haircut."

The county had sought $5 million to get the program established, so the actual appropriation fell far short of what is needed, officials said.

Additional money for No Wrong Door will be sought. Commissioners believe the program will free up space in the Alachua County jail, which is over capacity, and provide needed assistance for those inmates once out of jail.

"Continued diverting of the mentally ill from the jail will be a major priority for us," commission Chairman Rodney Long said. "Any dollars we can get will enhance what we already have."

Two other priorities are money for after school programs and money for the 10-year program to end homelessness in Alachua County.

Both those programs were rejected for funding in 2007.

Commissioners will consider adding other projects to the county's priority list, including money to extend SW 62nd Boulevard southward from 20th Avenue to connect with roads near Butler Plaza to provide a new link to Archer Road.

Cindy Swirko can be reached at 352-374-5024 or swirkoc@

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