First Selectman Pat Llodra and Newtown Prevention Council Co-Chair Judy Blanchard outlined a possible new role for the council to play in town during its meeting on Thursday, January 16.
The meeting was moved to Newtown High School’s library from C.H. Booth Library, which is still closed for remediation work after a January 4 flood caused by broken sprinkler pipes.
According to the first selectman, the Newtown Prevention Council will be included in an application for a Department of Justice grant the town is set to complete in the next week.
During a December 4 Legislative Council meeting, Mrs Llodra explained the DOJ grant could deliver millions of dollars to the community to complete support infrastructure for both short- and long-term post-traumatic response to 12/14.
At the January 16 Prevention Council meeting, Mrs Llodra said the intention is to write the council into the DOJ grant application as the body that would oversee the development of resiliency tools and programs.
Mrs Llodra said the town is anticipating the grant will be funded, but she also said she does not know how much money will be approved. She also shared an expectation that the grant may allow for people to be hired to help oversee parts of the Prevention Council’s role with the grant.
“We think this is the right place to put that work,” Mrs Llodra said.
Mrs Llodra pointed to the history and sustainability of the Newtown Prevention Council, which was founded in 1986, as making it the right body to oversee recovery programs. Fixes for mental health issues will not be found in two to three years, Mrs Llodra said, so the town needs an organization that can “be here for the long haul.”
“We know our journey of recovery is a very long journey,” said Mrs Llodra.
The Newtown Prevention Council, the first selectman continued, is a body that ties all parts of the community together and is already integrated strongly into the town.
“You really are in a very powerful position and can be a tool for great things, we believe,” Mrs Llodra said.
Ms Blanchard said the council has a proven history of reducing substance abuse over time. She also said everyone has their own mental health risk factors, and the events of 12/14 added a new layer to those factors. The town, Ms Blanchard said, needs to bolster protective factors in order to find an equilibrium.
“We have a history of doing good work and I feel we can transfer that into other areas,” Ms Blanchard said.
After saying each individual member makes up the Prevention Council, Ms Blanchard prepared those present for the possible work before them.
“It’s going to be work guys,” she said. “It’s going to be work. So we need every one of you.”
After discussing the possible DOJ grant, the Prevention Council moved on to discussing its application for the Drug-Free Communities Grant.
Members present for the meeting broke up into groups to brainstorm ideas on how to change or strengthen its work in reducing marijuana, prescription drug abuse, and alcohol use.
Following the meeting, Newtown Prevention Council Grant Coordinator Kim Killoy said the meeting was very productive.