Drug court awarded United Way grant

Frederick County’s drug court, less than three months from taking its first case, got a boost Friday with the awarding of a $25,000 grant.

The grant from the United Way of the Northern Shenandoah Valley will pay for the rehabilitation and treatment of five individuals deemed eligible for the drug court, an institution being created in response to the spiraling number of drug addicts in the area. The purpose of the court is to create alternatives to jail for addicts who are deemed more likely to benefit from participation in treatment programs instead of serving jail time.

Nadine Pottinga, CEO of the United Way, said in a written statement that her agency was pleased to help the drug court as it nears its launching.

“At United Way, we have seen a rising concern with the heroin epidemic occurring in our community as well as other drug related challenges and have been looking for a way to respond and break the cycle of drug use,” Pottinga stated.

Lauren Cummings, executive director of the Northern Shenandoah Valley Substance Abuse Coalition, said the United Way’s contribution is the first grant awarded to the drug court by a non-profit or government agency.

“We’re thrilled that United Way is supporting us through this grant and sponsoring the new drug treatment court,” Cummings said. “We appreciate their dedication to this new program and the lives that will be changed due to this funding.”

The United Way grant will pay for treatment and rehabilitation of five individuals who will be among the first participants in the drug court.

Participants will have their cases heard as in any other courtroom but, with the approval of a presiding judge, will be diverted into treatment and rehabilitation instead of jail. They must stay clear of drugs and adhere to other rules to continue participating in treatment and rehabilitation.

Cummings said the goal of the program is to enroll 10 or 15 participants in the first year and eventually reach a capacity of 50 to 55.

The drug court is scheduled to begin taking referrals and conducting assessments of individuals on July 1. The first case is expected to be heard on Aug. 10.

The United Way joins Winchester, Frederick and Clarke counties and Valley Health in contributing money to the drug court. Cummings said the substance abuse coalition has also applied for a $350,000 grant from the federal government’s Bureau of Justice.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com