State Leaders Discuss UNITE Funding

By: Marie Luby Email
By: Marie Luby Email

It could mean no layoffs for Operation UNITE, but it's still just a temporary fix.

Monday, UNITE officials and state legislators announced a bill for emergency money to keep all UNITE officers on the streets. Some people affected by drugs say this money is going to make a big difference.

People who packed into the London-Laurel Tourist Commission Office Monday afternoon face the impact of drug abuse every day.

"It has destroyed families, lives," said Carolyn Wilson.

"We were losing on average one young person a week. We just couldn't afford that anymore," said Nancy Hale.

Now Operation UNITE can't afford to keep 12 of its staff and fully fund all of its programs. State Senators Robert Stivers and Tom Jensen are introducing a bill to give Operation UNITE $450,000 dollars to save those jobs, and the people they serve through the end of this fiscal year.

"It won't happen on our watch that we fail to have the commitment to try to rid ourselves and give our children the dreams we want them to have," Senator Stivers said.

Stivers says he's confident the bill will make it to the governor's desk because the money would come from the multi-county regional economic development fund, an area he says is safe from budget cuts.

"This is not an area the governor is looking at to do any type of budget cutbacks. It is a fund that is statutorily designated to go back into the counties from which it came," Stivers said.

U.S. Representative Hal Rogers says thanks to UNITE, Eastern Kentucky is the only region in the state showing a significant decrease in the number of dispensed narcotics, all the more reason the state should chip in.

"It's easy to get media coverage for a roundup or arresting drug dealers. I don't know that people understand the impact we're having on recovery, treatment, and education," said Karen Engle with Operation UNITE.

If it passes, the bill could take effect by the end of the month.

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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by denny Location: lagrange on Feb 5, 2008 at 05:49 AM
    Is the lights off yet. I keep hoping soon, real soon, la thim off.
  • by denny Location: lagrange on Feb 4, 2008 at 06:43 AM
    The news is in, no new funding, haa, haa, now let the pink slips start flowing all the way up to Karen Engle. bye,bye
  • by denny Location: lagrange on Jan 31, 2008 at 09:41 AM
    The day will be so refreshing when they close the door's to unite and I'll have a party at my house to celebrate this glorius day. I hate want a-be cops, I respect K.S.P. AND HAT UNITE PUNKETT'S. PARTY TIME, TICK TOCK, MONEY RUNNING OUT BOYS AND GIRLS
  • by denny Location: lagrange on Jan 29, 2008 at 06:06 PM
    I see the governor did the right thing and didn't give these unite thugs no money, good bye karen and good riddence as i'll be so happy to see you un-employed. good bye
  • by Liberty Location: Pike Co on Jan 29, 2008 at 08:03 AM
    If Unite receives tax dollars, all salaries should be reported. If it is a pork barrel project with little sincere value, dump it.
  • by denny Location: lagrange on Jan 28, 2008 at 04:39 AM
    I can't wait till they day we are rid of karen engle and her band of thugs, on the un-employment line is were I see these bunch of rats(snitches) let the real cops(ksp) do their job. I hate the drug dealers, but worse then that I hate people that steal money.
  • by jenni Location: hazard on Jan 25, 2008 at 08:44 AM
    i am tired of people using to line their pockets. get rid of unite and let the ksp and locals do their jobs. They are well educated people who are very capable of doing their jobs. Coal severence money is supose to go largely for education. Hal Rodgers is out of line pouring this kind of money to one org. when it is needed in our schools, helping the unemployed, homeless and helpless. there are drug problems nation wide but only in has it been so publicized and as a result no job market is available. WAKE UP PEOPLE!
  • by Joe Location: Wyoming on Jan 24, 2008 at 09:25 PM
    In the county that I used to live there was a unite round-up and the county sheriff tipped off some of the ones to be arrested so they wouldn't be caught. He then would go over to there homes to party. It was pathetic. Then there was another time when we had proof, presented the proof, and they refused to do anything "the bird in the hand". Haven't trusted law enforcement in that county since
  • by dean Location: letcher on Jan 24, 2008 at 03:08 PM
    Hal Rogers and Karen Engle may win a partial victory in the battle for coal severance funds, but they will lose the war. No organization can survive long with no good will from the public, nor from the professionals they have exploited. They were launched with enthusiasm and great hopes by those of us who thought it could be a great movement, but the character of the leadership structure quickly became apparent, when they sold us out and betrayed us.
  • by john Location: letcher county on Jan 24, 2008 at 11:58 AM
    I heard Karen Engle talking about getting grants from private foundations. Good luck!! She will find out that they are a lot more careful about how their funds are used than governments are. They may ask for qualifications of the staff, for one thing. They may be more skeptical about some of UNITE's reported successes, as well.


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