Thumbs up; thumbs down, June 20

Thumbs Up

Jail’s outpatient drug treatment program

This isn’t the first time we’ve given a thumbs up to the new outpatient drug treatment program being run for former inmates of the Boyle County Detention Center, and it won’t be the last.

Over the weekend, we shared the story of Justin Morgan, one of the first participants in the program, which is run by Shepherd’s House. Morgan is hoping to be one of the first graduates of the program, perhaps on Aug. 27. And he now has a tax-paying job, courtesy of the same people who created the program that helped him get out of jail: The Boyle County Fiscal Court approved last week hiring Morgan at the local animal shelter.

Morgan isn’t the only one in the outpatient treatment program to get a job. And even those who don’t have a job yet are working as volunteers, essentially doing community service around Boyle and Mercer counties.

The goals of this ground-breaking program are to teach people who have problems with drug addiction how to combat it; and to give them the resources and soft skills necessary to get and keep a job and build themselves a better life. When you have something to do with your time, when you have a good reason to work hard and stay clean, that can be the best anti-drug measure of all.

This program only has a few months under its belt, and officials have been cautious to say they will really be able to tell how successful it is after about a year of results. But the early indicators look good and suggest that we may have something here that others will soon be clamoring to copy.

Thumbs Up

Community involvement on strategic plan

Last week, we published a lengthy article on what we found inside thousands of pages of communications between RKG Associates and local officials concerning the creation of a strategic economic development plan for the area.

We found some conversations and documents that shed light on what was going on behind-the-scenes during some of the planning, including how the initial proposal to reorganize the Danville-Boyle County Economic Development Partnership apparently would have given the board of the Boyle County Industrial Foundation a majority voice on the EDP board.

But outside of the more interesting parts we reported on was an ocean of conversations between dozens of elected officials, business people, community leaders and EDP board members.

There were lengthy exchanges where many different individuals chose their “top five” priorities for economic development in Boyle County. There were critiques of how accurate or not graphs showing payroll tax growth might be. There were debates about how to be inclusive of the desires of multiple communities in Boyle County.

Participants talked about how to make sure Planning and Zoning is helpful, not harmful, to economic development; they shared articles on public-private partnerships and other economic development success stories.

And then there were the scheduling emails: A huge chunk of the documents we reviewed were emails fine-tuning details for RKG consultant Kyle Talente’s multiple visits to Boyle County.

What we found was a large contingent of local leaders — many emails had more than 80 people in the “to” and “cc” fields — who were truly involved and cared about what the strategic plan looks like. These local people are responsible for what the plan looks like, whether they voiced support, criticized an idea or just watched the conversation and stayed informed.

We don’t know if the recommendations of the strategic plan will be successful. We don’t know if they’re truly the best options for Boyle County. We don’t even know if they’ll be adopted or executed. But after hours and hours of reading other people’s emails, we do know this: It is a plan developed by the community, with the intention of doing good for the community.