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North County Connection hangs by a thread

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One of San Luis Obispo County’s only remaining community-based rehabilitation centers, North County Connection in Atascadero, has been given a short lifeline, but is far from out of the dumps.

On May 10, county supervisors unanimously voted to reallocate $35,000 of federal Community Development Block Grant funding to the struggling rehabilitation center, which provides free treatment for those with drug, alcohol, and other addictions.

The almost all-volunteer center has been struggling financially since its contract with the county was canceled about a decade ago. Most recently, North County Connection staff have been trying to avoid losing their facility on top of dealing with ratcheting budget cuts. They were recently informed by their landlords that the building would have to be sold unless the center can raise $185,000.

With the grant funding, the center still needs to raise $150,000 to stay put. However, county officials gave North County Connection one year, until May 2012, to generate the remaining funds or it will lose the $35,000, too, which will be reallocated to Oceano for drainage improvements on Highway 1.

Supervisor Jim Patterson, whose district includes the center, said it provides “much-needed services,” calling the grant allocation “seed money” to potentially keep the center open.

Yet with mounting cuts to other funding pools, North County Connection seems to be taking one step forward and two steps back.

George Rowland, a volunteer, told New Times at the same time North County Connection is gaining some money, it’s looking at a 48 percent cut to other grant funds that go toward basic operating funds like utilities and liability insurance.

North County Connection staff say they plan to appeal to county supervisors to reinstate lost grant funds during the upcoming budget hearings in mid-June.

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