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Drug investigations to go on despite grant denial

The St. Croix Valley Drug Task Force, dealing with drug investigations in Pierce, Polk and St. Croix counties, won't receive federal grant funding for next year.

Pierce County Sheriff Everett Muhlhausen said Thursday the task force applied for $99,741 in funds through the Office of Justice Administration (OJA), but the amount it has been recommended to receive in 2006 is zero. No official reason for the rejection has been given, Muhlhausen said, though he understood a lack of funding contributed to the unsuccessful application.

The task force has gotten such grant funds for drug investigations annually in the past, he said, in contrast to the OJA Drug Task Force Review Committee's latest recommendation.

Nonetheless, the sheriff vowed the investigations will continue, acknowledging area residents' recent concern about the presence of methamphetamine in this vicinity, for example.

"We owe it to the community not to let this fall by the wayside," he said, expecting the investigations will have to be covered using existing resources. Governments in the three counties will have to be approached about their willingness to contribute, he suspected.

A list of 26 requests from throughout Wisconsin for federal awards and the recommendations for each sent to Muhlhausen last week shows 10 task forces got no funding and funds for most of the others were drastically reduced. Among the successful applicants, for instance, Eau Claire County asked for $554,408, but is to get $79,445.

Also in this region, the requests and recommendations on the list include: Barron/Rusk counties, $31,713, $0; and Douglas NACU, $98,810, $46,204.

Only La Crosse County's request for $62,500 is recommended to be met.

Information accompanying the list indicates there was $4.3 million in requested funding and a total of $1.9 million available to be awarded. Available funding for 2007 is to be reduced even further, to an expected $800,000.

Although the information states the process isn't complete and there still could be changes, Muhlhausen wasn't optimistic about prospects for this area's task force's drug investigations to be funded by a grant.

Bill Kirk can be contacted at