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Sedgwick County commissioners got into a discussion Wednesday over the value of grant funding for county programs, and they voted to approve several grants and grant applications.
Commissioner Richard Ranzau continued to make his argument that the county should not accept federal grants because of the enormous deficit in the federal budget. He was the only 'no' vote in accepting a grant for the Regional Forensic Science Center.
Commissioners voted 4-1 to accept a $50,000 grant from the National Institute of Justice through the Kansas Bureau of Investigation to expand DNA lab facilities. The vote was the same for a $65,710 grant from the Paul Coverdell National Forensic Science Improvement Act to maintain a staff position for toxicology. Regional Forensic Science Center director Tim Rohrig said the position is for a forensic scientist to work on toxocology reports in criminal investigations regarding drunk driving and drug use.
Commissioner Jim Skelton said the grants are needed to help the county keep pace with technology needs in law enforcement.
Commissioners also voted 4-1, with Ranzau voting no, to accept two grants totaling over $2 million for the Women, Infants and Children program at the county health department. Health department director Claudia Blackburn said the WIC nutrition education and health program for pregnant women and children has an active caseload of just under 15,000 on a monthly basis. The grant is awarded through the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
Commissioners were more divided over a grant application for an accreditation program for the health department. The grant would be provided by the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO).
Ranzau voiced strong opposition, saying this would be a vehicle for the federal government to take control of local health departments. Commissioner Dave Unruh said it's a program that would help the county in meeting national standards and maintaining high performance. Unruh, Skelton and commission chairman Tim Norton voted for the grant, while Ranzau and Karl Peterjohn voted no.