Social services headline county meeting

By Corene Brisendine

Social services topped the county agenda on Monday.

Among other items, commissioner Dave Lewis said there is support for an in-patient facility in Riley County.

City commissioner Karen McCulloh gave an update on the mental health task force, which was put together earlier this year to look what it costs the city and county if there is a shortage of social services available to local residents.

She said they are still working on getting an accurate assessment, but even with the numbers at hand, it will cost the county money to provide a facility.

“The county will continue to be strong supporters of the development of a program, and continue to talk to our counterparts to find a regional solution as well,” Lewis said.

Pawnee Mental Health director Robbin Cole said that they have some services available for mental crisis situations, but not without significant costs. She said Topeka has offered to provide in-patient type services during a crisis situation – but if the patient is uninsured, it will cost $1,200 a day.

Pawnee provides out-patient mental health care and drug counseling in a 10-county region, and receives part of its funding from Riley County.

Cole said that Pawnee staff members must then decide if the cost is worth the treatment. She said the good news is that it gives the commission an idea of what it would cost the county to operate an in-patient facility.

She also said that the Kansas Department of Health and Environment released suicide rates for 2011 and 2012. During that time, suicides went up 31.5 percent across the state.

However, she said that Pawnee’s service area reported a 13 percent decrease during the same period.

“I wish I could tell you why the trends are different in Pawnee’s 10 counties,” she said. “If I could tell you why we had a 13 percent decrease while the state of Kansas had a 31.5 increase, I would bottle that and distribute it throughout the state.”

In other business:


Riley County Health Department director Jan Scheidemen said that it received $780,000 from the Raising Riley RIGHT grant that funds early childhood development for Riley county citizens.

The grant helps cover the cost of preschool programs for families with incomes that are up to 200 percent above the poverty level.


Manhattan Emergency Shelter director Emily Wagner also gave commissioners an update on her activities.

She said that the shelter is currently accepting donations for Christmas gifts for families at the shelter. She said this is the first year the donations to the carriage rides downtown will go to the shelter, as well.

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