puts westernmost Ky.
counties in a financial bind
By Venita Fritz
Tribune-Courier General Manager
In the wake of federal funding cuts which have effectively squeezed seven counties in far western Kentucky out of inclusion in the Pennyrile Narcotics Task Force, Marshall County Sheriff Kevin Byars met last week with his counterparts from three neighboring counties to determine the best course of action to keep the war on drugs alive.
Byars met with McCracken County Sheriff Jon Hayden, Graves County Sheriff Dewayne Redmon and Calloway County Sheriff Bill Marcum, along with drug enforcement officers from the respective departments.
Byars said the group agreed last week to poll sheriffs in some of the smaller counties such as Carlisle and Hickman to see what the interest level is in forming a new task force.
“We all overlap each other so much that it’s important that we continue to work together as we have in the past, whether it’s through a formal task force or just a high level of cooperation,” said Byars.
Byars said he has spoken with Van Ingram, executive director of the Office of Drug Control Policy in Frankfort, through whom federal funds are dispersed.
Byars said Ingram indicated there are grant monies available to assist with the formation of a new task force, but it would be next year before they would be available.
He also said Ingram indicated the possibility of hiring a director of such a task force, along with an administrative assistant, but that funding for officer salaries, fuel, equipment, cars and buy-money would likely not be included through grant support.
Byars estimated it would cost Marshall County between $40,000 and $50,000 to cover the loss of support from the Pennyrile Narcotics Task Force, but it’s money he said must be spent.
“It’s just too important to the residents of our county and to the region not to keep our efforts moving forward,” he said.
Byars pointed to the arrest of several people in June in which detectives seized more than $37,000 in cash, along with 50 grams of meth, nearly one pound of marijuana, a loaded handgun and digital scales from a home on Griggstown Road as evidence of the need for continued cooperation among agencies.
In fiscal court last week Byars said he had spoken with the board of the Pennyrile Narcotics Task Force who agreed to turn over a 2010 vehicle in return for the $8,033 the county had paid for participation in the program. Members of the fiscal court approved the arrangement.