Champaign Council Reverses Course, Accepts Federal Law Enforcement Money
In a reversal of a previous "no" vote, the Champaign City Council has voted to 6-2 to accept its share of a federal grant aimed at curbing underage drinking in Champaign-Urbana.
Urbana and the University of Illinois are also involved in the grant, but the Champaign City Council last month rejected its portion, 11-thousand dollars a year for three years, to fund police efforts to curb underage drinking.
But after the director of the Mental Health Center of Champaign County made a personal plea, enough council members changed their minds Tuesday night to turn last month's "no" vote into a "yes" .
Marci Dodds was among those who switched, even though she thinks the city doesn't need the money, and believes it would be better to combat problem drinking at any age, rather than all drinking by minors.
"In understanding the ramifications of what this means to the Mental Health Center at large, I will vote for it," said Dodds, "because I greatly support what the Mental Health Center does. But I am not thrilled with the plan."
The $360,000 3-year grant will also fund education programs aimed at preventing underage drinking, under the sponsorship of the Mental Health Center. City Manager Steve Carter says the grant is aimed at both policing and prevention --- and if Champaign rejected its portion, it could endanger the entire program.