Council Accepts Grant for Public Health Services

The Derry Town Council has voted unanimously to accept a grant of $25,000 from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

Garrett Simonsen, coordinator of the Greater Derry Public Health Network, spoke to the grant at the Sept. 16 Town Council meeting.

Simonsen said the DHHS, through Federal block grants, is offering two funding opportunities as an amendment to its existing contract with the Derry Health Department. The combined funding for these initiatives is $25,000. Simonsen said the funds, if granted, would be used in the following areas:

• $15,000, Substance Misuse Prevention Services. The funds will be used to facilitate the planning process for a “substance misuse continuum of care” across partner agencies, including environmental strategies, prevention, early intervention, treatment and recovery support services.

• $10,000, Health Improvement Planning. The funds will be used to convene and facilitate a regional process to develop and publish a Community Health Improvement Plan, including priority areas established by the State Health Improvement Plan.

Councilor Joshua Bourdon asked Simonsen and Police Chief Ed Garone about “Spice,” or synthetic marijuana. Bourdon wanted to know if the drug was legal.

Simonsen said it is legal, but several New Hampshire communities have passed ordinances to get it off merchants’ shelves. “They can identify how much of a problem it is when it is no longer available,” Simonsen said.

Garone said he has spoken with the Attorney General’s office and they are working to get a statewide ordinance. The issue, he said, is that the makers of “Spice” tweak the ingredients when a law comes up, which causes changes in the legislation.

“But I am confident we’ll see something passed in the near future,” he said.

“I would like to see us be the leader in this,” Bourdon said.

The Council voted 7-0 to accept the grant.