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Local News

Will County Executive's Office seeking another grant to fight heroin use

Lincoln-Way, Wilmington students would receive heroin prevention education

JOLIET – Two more school districts in Will County could have heroin awareness and prevention studies added next school year to their respective curriculums. 

The Will County Board’s Judicial Committee heard Tuesday morning a presentation from the Will County Executive’s Office about an application for a Justice Assistance Grant, which would fund the heroin-related programs.

The $28,148 grant would bring lessons to Lincoln-Way Community High School District 210 and Wilmington Community Unit School District 209. In Wilmington, eighth- and ninth-graders would study the programs, which were created by the Robert Crown Center for Health Education.

“For the amount, we can do some good,” said Nick Palmer, chief of staff for the Will County Executive’s Office.

If approved by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, the funds would mark the fourth consecutive year the county used such a grant to fight heroin abuse in the area.

Justice Assistance Grant funds were used in 2013 to start the Robert Crown heroin education program in Valley View School District 365U. In 2014, the grant was used for Narcan training of local law enforcement. In 2015, the grant added the Robert Crown program to Plainfield School District 202. Prior grant uses in Will County include in-car cameras for sheriff’s vehicles and program software.

The County Board’s Executive Committee is set to discuss the application Thursday. If approved, the full board is expected to vote on it June 16. The application is due by the end of the month.

The Will County Executive’s Office announced last week its intent to apply for a much larger grant to fund five years of heroin-fighting programs and initiatives. That grant would include a dedicated specialist to lead the county’s effort.

“The position we applied for last week can tie in nicely with this,” Palmer told the Judicial Committee. “This is part of a larger program.”

Board member Steve Balich, R-Homer Glen, asked Palmer in the meeting how the program works. Palmer replied that a Robert Crown staff member trains teachers on the program, which is used online at www.RobertCrown.org.

Judicial Committee Chairman Darren Bennefield, R-Aurora, said it would be nice to see a school district commit to including the program in schools more consistently over time, such as through a three-year use of the program. Palmer said he’s not sure the county should fund it indefinitely, adding that it would cost a district about $5,000 per year to continue the program after it is first introduced.

Wilmington and Braidwood – communities of fewer than 6,000 people each – have seen a string of heroin-related arrests and deaths in recent years. If awarded, Wilmington would be the smallest school district in the county to receive funding for the Robert Crown program.

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