Mental-health mapping tool is worthy project

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Those working with behavioral-health issues in Flathead County have a new mapping tool at their disposal that aims to develop a justice system model that doesn’t criminalize mental-health or substance-use disorders. The idea is to divert those offenders whose criminal history is secondary to their mental-health or substance-abuse issues and steer them instead into effective treatment and recovery services.

Known as sequential intercept mapping (SIM), the program shows all community entities one who enters the system may come in contact with, from hospitals to courts, and lists community resources, all with the goal of getting people the help they need instead of locking them up in jail.

It was startling to learn an estimated 15,352 adults in Flathead County have a mental illness, and close to 4,000 have what is deemed a “serious mental illness.” Also alarming is the fact that close to two-thirds of jail admissions in the county have some type of mental-health problem.

The mapping tool is just getting off the ground here, and we hope it will be an important part of the process of getting people the treatment and resources they need.

Kalispell Public Schools had some impressive statistics to share after tallying the results of roughly $4 million in energy-saving projects that began six years ago. The projects have resulted in reduced electrical, heating and water usage, even with the district expanding some schools.

As one example, by replacing 29,000 fluorescent and halogen light bulbs with energy-efficient LED bulbs, the district saw a 43 percent reduction in energy usage just in lighting costs. The school district also saw sizable reductions in other electrical use, along with reductions in natural gas and water usage.

The district tapped into zero-interest federal funding, along with some district funds to improve energy-efficiency. With an average annual savings of more than $146,500, it would seems this has been money well-spent.

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