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Williamson County commissioners have approved spending federal American Recovery Act money on several items, including backup generators, a new adult probation office in Liberty Hill and a remodeled facility to help divert people with mental illness issues from jail.
The commissioners also approved up to $250,000 at their Tuesday meeting for a visiting judge and a court clerk to help with mental health cases at County Court-at-Law #4.
Last spring, the county was approved to receive $114 million in new federal coronavirus relief funds through the American Recovery Act.
The county already has received part of the money. In August, commissioners approved spending $16.8 million of it for mental health services and breast cancer screening.
The money that commissioners approved on Tuesday to go to mental health cases will help because many of them require immediate action and multiple hearings, said Sharrion Threadgill, the court's administrator.
"Divorce and custody cases are often riddled with violence, child abuse, addiction and other mental health issues requiring court time and immediate action to protect families that may be in crisis," she said.
"The addition of a court master (visiting judge) to hear mental health cases and handle related responsibilities would allow the County Court-at-Law No. 4 judge to manage other assigned responsibilities uninterrupted, providing a more thorough and efficient flow of all case types."
The money that commissioners approved on Tuesday also includes $300,000 for backup generators for EMS offices and $195,000 for a backup generator at the Central Texas Treatment Center in Granger.
The funds also include $71,690 to finish a new Liberty Hill location for adult probation services and $45,000 to finish remodeling a drop-off center to help divert people with mental illnesses from jail.
"We started the remodel from CARES funds to prepare the building for this use and are finishing the project out of ARPA funds," said Connie Odom, a county spokeswoman.
The building being remodeled is in San Gabriel Park in Georgetown, she said.
"This is a facility where law enforcement officers can bring individuals in crisis. Individuals can be held for 23 hours or less, while they are assessed, stabilized and an appropriate facility is identified for continued treatment, if necessary. We do not have such a facility currently."
Commissioners also approved $300,000 to remodel office space for sheriff's office staff who are being moved out of the building being prepared for the drop-off center, Odom said.
This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: Williamson commissioners approve COVID funds for mental health issues