County takes a look at West River mental health assets

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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) -- What a difference a fortnight makes.

At its last meeting the Pennington County Commission voted down a plan to survey West River mental health resources. On Tuesday it reversed itself and OK'd the idea.

Two weeks ago the West River Coalition for Mental Health asked the commission to back its plan to pursue grant funding to survey area mental health assets.

The only state mental health facility is in Yankton and many professionals believe one is needed locally. They say they need hard data to present to the Legislature, which would most likely have to fund any such new operation. Commissioner Ron Buskerud voted against the plan two weeks ago but had a change of heart and brought the issue up again Tuesday where it passed 3 to 2.

"Not all of my votes are correct," explained Buskerud. "If you learn some information in the meantime any politician should be ready to change their mind and vote their conscience and do what they think is probably better than the last time."

Next step for the coalition is to apply for a nearly $200,000 grant from the Lenona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust to conduct a comprehensive study of the west river mental health needs and capabilities.