Increase approved after addiction treatment was added to services

Centerstone Behavioral Health Services will receive a 4-percent increase in county funding to provide mental health and addiction treatment to the indigent in 2018.

That’s according to a contract approved Tuesday by the Bartholomew County Commissioners. The agreement provides Centerstone with $613,641 during the upcoming new year — up from $590,039 allocated in 2017.

The decision comes one week after the commissioners updated last year’s contract to add addiction treatment to the list of services, and assistance for the mentally ill.

Although county council members want more specific details regarding what services Centerstone currently provides, commissioner Carl Lienhoop said the organization is signalling its intent to play a significant role in addressing the local opioid crisis.

In December, Centerstone announced it had acquired two grants to bolster addiction-treatment programs, and is negotiating to purchase a building at 1680 Whitney Court in Columbus to serve a medical-addictions treatment program.

Lienhoop serves as one of the three main sponsors of the Alliance for Substance Abuse Progress in Bartholomew County, which is expected to announce a number of proposals in the coming months.

During their annual organizational day activities, the commissioners also agreed to pay the Bartholomew County Humane Society $82,000 — a 1.5 percent increase from last year — to house stray or abandoned animals found outside the Columbus city limits.

Another contract will provide Bartholomew County Highway Engineer Danny Hollander $81,689 for his services in 2018, which represents a 3-percent increase from last year.

However, the state of Indiana reimburses the county $20,000 for Hollander’s annual salary, commissioner Larry Kleinhenz said.

In contrast, the $63,860 contract with long-time county attorney Grant Tucker represents a 1.5-percent pay hike.

Kleinhenz compared that amount to the more than $100,000 in legal fees that he said were paid by the commissioners when he was first elected in 1992.

The amount being paid in 2018 to nurse-practitioner Brenda Louise Korte for providing medical care at the Bartholomew County Youth Services Center will remain the same as last year: $10,710.

In other organizational day activities, the commissioners agreed to pay $14,000 to the Greater Columbus Economic Development Board in exchange for two seats on their board of directors. County council member Jorge Morales and Kleinhenz held those positions in 2017.

Amounts to other organizations for contractual services approved Tuesday include:

  • Developmental Services Inc: $100,000.
  • Bartholomew County Soil and Water Conservation: $60,700.
  • Mill Race Center: $3,000.

Now in his seventh consecutive term, Kleinhenz was unanimously chosen by his peers Tuesday to succeed Carl Lienhoop as 2018 chairman.

Although southern Bartholomew County farmer Jason Engelau is a new appointment to the county’s drainage board, others named to various commissions, committees and boards will remain the same as last year, Lienhoop said.

Three appointments will temporarily remain vacant until qualified candidates can be recruited to take the place of others who did not seek reappointment, commissioner Rick Flohr said. Those openings are on the Columbus Area Arts Council, the Bartholomew County Plan Commission and the Bartholomew County Health Board.

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.