The DARE program has been run by the town of Leland for the past three years. Now, budget concerns may mean an end to it.
Like many local governments, the town of Leland is bracing for a budget crunch. A DARE program advocate says the town is not only robbing the community, but the future of the town’s youth.
Skip Wittkofsky wears his DARE hat proudly. He’s been a supporter of the drug awareness program since it came to Leland three years ago.
He’s so invested, he personally raised thousands of dollars to get it off the ground and into area schools. “We need to reach these kids to let them understand about drugs, about crime. It’s just so important, it’s not a major amount of money to put a program on like this,” Wittkofsky said.
For two years, DARE was funded by donations from business owners like Wittofsky. Last year however, the town of Leland took over the $75,000 a year cost of running the program.
But now, DARE might be in danger.
“We are at the point where we need to make the most effective use of all of our resources so that we don’t have to lay anybody off,” said Bill Farris, Leland Town Manager.
Under a new proposal, the town would stop funding the DARE program, and instead use the money for priorities like public works projects, and running the police department.
Wittkofsky said he understands belt tightening, but not sacrificing a crucial program in the process.
The town wants to take DARE officer Sherry Lewis off her education route, and switch her on regular police patrol.
Her DARE police car would go back into the fleet, a car Wittkofsky said was bought with money donated by people in the community who support the program.
Sources told WWAY Officer Lewis’s DARE car has already been stripped of its decals, despite the fact that town council still has to vote on taking away the DARE program.
There is talk of the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Department taking over where the Leland Dare program left off. But, there are budget concerns there as well.