CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A center that coordinates West Virginia's efforts to prevent drug and alcohol abuse will lose about half of its funding in October because the state Department of Health and Human Resources redirected its major grant.
The Prevention Resource Center will lay off about a dozen people -- roughly a third of its staff, said executive director Wayne Coombs.
"We're not going away," he said. "We have other funding. We are going to lose some people."
About half of the center's $3 million annual budget comes from a federal grant that helps states fund substance abuse treatment and prevention services. That money goes through the state's Bureau for Behavioral Health and Health Facilities, which contracted with the prevention center for about a decade.
Earlier this year, DHHR officials decided to open that grant up for bid to various groups around the state, rather than awarding it all to the center.
In an e-mail to the Gazette-Mail, DHHR spokesman John Law cited a 2008 federal review of West Virginia's prevention efforts related to the grant.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration conducted the technical review, and the results were "poor," Law wrote.
"For the past six years, a significant portion of our prevention efforts that were criticized by SAMSHA in its review, have been funded by [the grant] to the PRC," he wrote.
Coombs disputes that characterization.
"A lot of the criticism was not about the prevention system, was not about us," he said. "It was about how the state was operating."
The center opened in 1997 and is affiliated with Marshall University. Its staff includes prevention specialists who work with communities around the state; researchers; grant writers; and communications and technology employees.