History of the Dubois County Substance Abuse Council
By Deb Capps and Nancy Eckerle, with input from Terry Tanner and Janet Schnell
1990 - Committee for a Drug-Free Jasper (CDFJ) was officially organized as a goal of
then-Governor Evan Bayh when he established the Governor’s Commission for a Drug-Free Indiana. He wanted each county to have a Local Coordinating Council (LCC). The Committee had 3 subcommittees: Treatment/Intervention, Prevention/Education and Justice. By the end of 1990, 59 LCC’s had formed and submitted initial Comprehensive Reports (including CDFJ). The Dubois County Commissioners officially agreed that CDFJ was the LCC for Dubois County.
1991 – CDFJ held first public forum to gather community input to expand their focus, with the result that the group joined with other county groups to work on substance abuse countywide. The group officially changed their name to Dubois County Substance Abuse Task Force (DCSATF).
Early 90’s – Don Hayes was very instrumental in the formation of this LCC, the by-laws, the comprehensive plan and the incorporation of this group. Some of the first efforts were:
Dubois County All-Stars
Red Ribbon Week
Coordination of Youth Support Groups
Drug-free school zones
Hoosier Alliance Against Drugs
Booths at the 4-H Fair
Coordination of local programs
Pre-employment drug screens
Produced a Substance Abuse Resource Directory
Mid-90’s – DCSATF hired first paid Coordinator, Marti Thornberry. She worked part-time. Her stipend was paid directly to Southern Hills Counseling Center, where she was a fulltime employee. Southern Hills agreed to allow her to work on DCSATF needs during her regular work hours. As a result, she felt torn between when to work on DSCATF needs and when to work on Southern Hills needs. Also, members who were previously active in promoting substance abuse education, became less active – believing that the paid Coordinator could fill the needs. Offender user fees began to be distributed to three categories, more or less equally: Prevention/Education, Law Enforcement and Treatment.
Late 90’s – Marti resigned and became Chair of the DCSATF. Membership was low, with average attendance at meetings less than 10.
Early 2000’s – Group changed name to Dubois County Substance Abuse Council (SAC), realizing that overcoming substance abuse issues is a long term challenge. SAC developed a website, logo, grant application and grant progress report. The logo and grant documents are still in use today, though the grant documents have undergone some revision over the years. The Executive Committee increased from Officers to include a Representative from each category: Prevention/Education, Treatment, and Law Enforcement.
Mid 2000’s – The work required by ICJI became more and more complicated. Deb Capps, who had served as the Chair since 2000, asked to become a paid Coordinator. SAC agreed and Nancy Eckerle became Chair, with Deb serving as a part-time Coordinator. During this time, SAC joined with Step Ahead to raise awareness of methamphetamine use. Four flyers in English and Spanish were widely distributed. SAC held two forums, one for professionals and one for public, with speakers from law enforcement, treatment providers and recovering addicts. The forums were well attended and well received. Membership at monthly meetings grew to be an average of 25, with participation swelling during grant cycles. Grants began to be distributed equally in three categories: Prevention/Education, Treatment, and Law Enforcement.
Late 2000’s – SAC conducted a community awareness campaign regarding prescription drug abuse. Informational flyers were developed and distributed to doctor offices, non-profit agencies and pharmacies across Dubois County. The flyers were also included in Jasper and Huntingburg utility bills. A forum was held, with speakers from law enforcement, pharmacies, treatment providers and a recovering addict. This forum was well attended and well received, as previous forums had been. The Executive Committee grew to include a maximum of 7 Representatives, as well as Officers. Grants began to be distributed equally in three categories: Prevention/Education, Treatment/Intervention, and Law Enforcement/Justice.
2008 – The method of collecting user fees from offenders was changed. Fees had previously been automatically collected as part of funds needed to be released from incarceration. Now fees began to be collected as users were able to pay remaining fees. As a result, user fees began dropping. They’ve dropped every year since 2008, down from over $78,000 in 2007 to less than $35,000 in 2014.
2010 - The work required by ICJI and Deb’s new fulltime job was taking a toll on her personal life. She no longer felt she was giving SAC her best and asked to step down. Janet Schnell was hired as the new part-time Coordinator. Deb dropped out of SAC entirely for 18 months, allowing Janet to make the job fully hers – though she was available to assist Janet when requested.
2012 - Janet became employee of Dubois County due to IRS audit. Changes were made with documentation provided to the Auditor’s Office
Current – User Fee Funds have dropped to the point that Janet, Coordinator, is barely able to meet the ICJI requirements, basic SAC essentials and grantee needs. She also maintains our new website which she helped design, updating it as new information becomes available. Some statistics in substance abuse have improved in recent years. Superior Court reports that OWI convictions have dropped each year from 215 in 2011 to 157 in 2014. The 2014 IPRC Teen Drug Surveys show that Dubois County youth are higher than state averages in 10 areas out of 70. This is a decrease from 2013, when Dubois youth were higher than state averages in 15 of 70 areas. However, the news isn’t all good. ICJI reported that Dubois County is number 85 out of 92 counties for highest active alcohol license per capita with a 1 to 9% failure rate for compliance in 2012. Law Enforcement reported that arrests have increased each year since 2012 with 12 offenders to 2014 with 156 offenders. The number of perpetrators seen by Crisis Connection decreased from 2008 each year till 2013 when it began to rise again.