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With the beginning of a new term, the St. Francois County Commission met Monday for their regular session at the courthouse annex.

Court Commissioner John Rupp and Sherri Hampton of the 24th Judicial Circuit Family Treatment Court addressed the county commission for permission to solicit bids for substance abuse outpatient treatment services.

“…Basically I’m in charge of the treatment courts for a four-county area,” Rupp said. “Earlier this year, we were directed by the presiding judge to set up a family treatment court program (FTCP).

"The FTCP is a diversion program taking individuals that would go under the normal juvenile system. These are individuals that are scheduled or at least initially plans are for termination of parental rights or guardianship. We divert these individuals into an intensive drug court program. We provide mental health services, substance abuse services, we provide groups and other wraparound services. Housing assistance, we provide them with things like budgeting classes, and life skills, parenting classes, domestic violence.

"It’s an all-encompassing program that can last from a minimum of 12 months. It can go as long as two years depending on their progress. If they do not successfully complete the program, the parent(s) are referred back to the traditional courts in which they are back on a termination of parental rights. We also provide services for the children.”

According to Rupp, because of the new program, the court received a grant from the federal government for approximately $3 million for the next five years. Because of the grant, the FTCP must provide certain services.

“We are looking for treatment providers for substance abuse counseling as well as mental health,” he said. “Our program is designed for 35 to 50 [clients]. We’re not quite at that, but considering our program started less than six months ago, we are at 13-14 participants.”

Rupp and Chief Juvenile Officer Ace Eckhoff explained that the 24th judicial circuit is number three in the number of hearings held for abuse and neglect in the last quarter. In Missouri’s 46 circuits, only two circuits have more abuse and neglect hearings: Kansas City and St. Louis County.

“We are talking about metropolitan areas with millions,” Rupp said. “Our entire circuit is probably 130,000 [total residents].

“The money has been awarded to us from the federal government, so this is going to be no additional county revenue to provide these services.”

Hampton stipulated that they wanted to ask for permission to accept multiple bids.

“We don’t want to find ourselves in the same situation we are in right now where we contracted with one specific person, they get upset, and we are without services,” she said. “We have a diverse group of individuals that we work with, sometimes they match well with one or the other. So we would like the opportunity to accept multiple bids.”

The commission approved the bid requests.

County Engagement Specialist/4-H Youth Specialist Stephanie Schindler gave the quarterly report of the Missouri Extension Office.

“We had 4-H Camp July 1-3,” she said. “We had total all the southeast region plus my three counties which are Ste. Genevieve, St. Francois and Washington. We had about 107-175 youth at Pinecrest in Fredericktown.

"We act as a regional camp for all the southeast region and then my three counties as well. It was a lot of fun, and it brings in a lot of people and lot of presenters, so they get to see a variety of things going on.”

Schindler explained that the extension had been busy at the state fair and organizing future activities.

“Kayce Amsden went up to the state fair and did the Show-Me Robotics day and took some of our camp supplies in relation to robotics and did an activity with all the kids that came through the Show-Me Robotics activity at the state fair,” she said. “Kayce also had a chance to go through and do the National Science Day training.

"They send kits if we request them. It’s a set of science related activities. She took the training and took three kids with her for those trainings, so if we have any youth groups that would be interested, and this goes for anybody, in having our youth trainers come out and present a part of our youth science activities, feel free to contact her at the extension office. That’s what they’re trying for is to go out and make contact with other youth in different organizations.

“Currently [Kendra Graham] is working on the Show-Me Select heifer sales. The fall sale is Dec. 13 here in Farmington. They’re expecting about 130 heifers. They have 250 heifers enrolled for the spring sale.”

Graham is also working on a women in agriculture program called Pearls in Production. The event is Nov. 1-2 in Columbia. Registration is now open for any women who are interested in agriculture topics.

Schindler also announced that the extension has hired Emily Bates Wright as the new Nutrition Program associate for St. Francois and Ste. Genevieve Counties. Wright has a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition from Southeast Missouri State University.

In other business, the commission approved the appointment of Presiding Commission Harold Gallaher to act as Flood Plain administrator. Gallaher agreed to fill the position without compensation.

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Mark Marberry is a reporter for the Farmington Press and Daily Journal. He can be reached at 573-518-3629, or at mmarberry@farmingtonpressonline.com

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