OC-ADCAT seeks validation from county government

By H.B. Dodds, Staff Writer
Posted 12/28/22

OSAGE COUNTY — The Osage County Anti-Drug Community Action Team (OC-ADCAT) made an official request for a line item in the 2023 Osage County Budget Thursday, Dec. 23. “We’d like …

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OC-ADCAT seeks validation from county government


OSAGE COUNTY — The Osage County Anti-Drug Community Action Team (OC-ADCAT) made an official request for a line item in the 2023 Osage County Budget Thursday, Dec. 23. “We’d like $10,000, but we’d take anything,” Executive Director Lori Winslow told Osage County Commissioners, who promised to consider her request. 

Winslow emphasized the wish is more for credibility than anything else. OC-ADCAT operates on a budget of just less than $200,000 per year, so her petition to the commission is hardly a make-it or break-it proposition. However, the organization’s 2022 “Sustainability Plan” includes acknowledgement by county government. It’s important to other fundraising. Grant writing, especially, improves with local government as a supporter of the cause. “I’d like to get a small portion of our budget from the county,” she said. “We have to be able to show we have that ownership from the county.”

Winslow supported her idea with data that showed both the organization’s needs and effectiveness. Few doubt the prevalence of drugs and alcohol and their ability to harm the county’s youth. OC-ADCAT is now emphasizing the dangers of e-cigarettes. Vaping has expanded beyond nicotine into THC and other harmful controlled substances. OC-ADCAT is mobilizing to combat an expected surge in dangerous behaviors. These will inevitably come with the recent decriminalization of recreational marijuana. “We know that’s going to happen,” she said. 

OC-ADCAT’s numbers are based on aggressive surveying of county schools. It proves their program is having a positive effect. There’s been a decrease in usage and more awareness in the last four years due to OC-ADCAT’s efforts. E-cigarette utilization among teenagers has dropped by almost half. Alcohol consumption is down by more than a fourth, and the willingness of parents to allow students to drink at home is down by almost half during that time frame. A concurrent survey of students across Missouri shows increases in those behaviors. “Our students are doing well [in comparison],” said Winslow, “but we want them to do better.” 

She stipulated the statewide survey includes data from large cities. 

OC-ADCAT also touts members’ hard work doing fundraisers and seeking grants. The organization pursues a four-pronged strategy for obtaining its resources. Fundraising is the first and most visible. They partner with Osage Ambulances to have a pork burger sale each year. The Alpha Epsilon Phi Sorority also assists them in putting on Father-Daughter and Mother-Son Dances. 

Then there are “in-kind” contributions from coalition members, including volunteers from across Osage County. The county’s schools, banks, churches, social service groups, other charitable organizations, media, and local government offices are represented.   

More than half of the annual budget comes from grants. Winslow’s request for a line-item allocation from the county would be about 5% of the total. 

Her presentation was supported by Osage County Health Department (OCHD) Administrator Kim Sallin, who praised the group’s visibility and its contributions to the OCHD mission. 

“OC-ADCAT is at every event the OCHD has,” said Sallin, one of three county officials serving on the OC-ADCAT board. 

The other two are Osage County Sheriff Mike Bonham and Osage County Circuit Clerk Beth Billington.

In a subsequent interview, OC-ADCAT President Lyle Best said the board shares his hope that the commission will approve the request. “OC-ADCAT has been active in the county for several years, and has really expanded its presence under Director Winslow,” he said. “She has been able to secure grant funding to boost the organization, but funding from other sources is necessary for sustainability. We know financial resources for the county are stretched as it is, but we believe investing in prevention efforts ultimately costs less than not addressing the issue. OC-ADCAT wants the best environment possible for people of Osage County, and hopefully the commission is able to support that effort.”