Speak Out: Amerson has shown leadership
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Jul 01, 2013 | 1821 views |  0 comments | 76 76 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A recent article in The Star concerned an audit of the Calhoun County sheriff’s office by the state office of public accounts. One of the issues in the audit involved the matter of Calhoun County Sheriff Larry Amerson loaning money from his office funds to a nonprofit organization, Family Links. As a board member of Family Links, I have had questions posed to me about this situation and would like to add information not in the article.

Family Links operates programs designed to help at-risk young people find positive and successful directions for their futures. It also provides programs for family training and support. The organization has been in operation since shortly after the Columbine High School shootings in 1999, having begun as the LINC ID program, and as an affiliate of the sheriff’s office. Amerson has served as chairman since its inception.

One of the programs that Family Links operates was brought to us by the county’s juvenile court judges, requesting our organization start and operate it. The agreement was that the program would be fully funded by the Alabama Department of Youth Services through the Calhoun County Commission. With the help of Coosa Valley Youth Center director, Mike Rollins, the program was designed and implemented and has significantly reduced the number of children sent to youth services.

Unfortunately for the program and our organization, the Alabama Department of Youth Services began a pattern of making its quarterly payments for the program more than three months in arrears, placing a rather large financial strain on the budget and cash flow for our rather small nonprofit. We were ultimately faced with the prospect of not only closing down this program, but shutting down our entire organization because of not being able to meet our financial obligations.

It was only through the temporary financial assistance offered from the sheriff’s office and a very generous emergency contribution from a local charitable foundation that we were able to continue our mission. Hopefully, the situation that created the financial crisis has now been resolved.

Amerson has provided vision and leadership for Family Links, in addition to his duties as sheriff. I commend him for his continuing efforts to help the young people of our community and for his outstanding service to our community as a whole.

Buddy Eiland
Anniston
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