CANYON CITY - It's official - Grant County Safe Communities Coalition has made the cut to receive a federal grant of $125,000 for each of the next five years.

Announcing the grants last week, the state Department of Human Services Addictions and Mental Health Division applauded the efforts of the Grant County organization and two other programs.

Also picked to receive funding in this round of grants were coalitions in Estacada and Clackamas County.

The three programs are the latest recipients of the 2010 Drug Free Communities Support Program grants in Oregon. The DFC program was authorized by Congress starting in 1997.

Nationwide, about 500 programs applied for the grants with 160 awarded.

Coalitions that receive the money consist of broad-based groups represented by community leaders, parents, youth, educators, police, business operators, medical professionals and religious leaders.

The Grant County coalition has received drug-free grant money for the past five years.

This grant requires a 100 percent match, consisting of an in-kind contribution of time and resources. The Grant County Court approved the application for the grant. The money is administered by the county, through the Grant County Commission on Children and Families.

The new award will allow the coalition to continue its efforts to focus on drug and alcohol prevention for underage youth, said Russ Comer, who staffs the Grant County group.

The grant pays for coalition staff, including Comer and a portion of the secretary's salary, as well as program expenses.

Comer said the coalition plans to expand its reach beyond the John Day area, into communities across the county. He said they will be working with organizers in Dayville and then other communities.

The five-year goal is to make Safe Communities' programs self-sufficient, with leadership established to carry on the work across Grant County even after the federal funding expires, he said.

"The goal is to have the coalition be something that can stand on its own," he said.

The DHS announcement credited the coalition with contributing to a 40 percent reduction in 11th-grade drinking over the past five years.

The coalition has organized various programs and events to press home the drug- and alcohol-free message. Recent events promoted by the coalition included a recovery picnic, where people could celebrate their milestones in overcoming addictions, and the Prescription Drug Take Back Day, held last Saturday in cooperation with local law enforcement agencies and the DEA.

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