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Date last updated: Thursday, August 16, 11:49 PST


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Calif. agencies awarded traffic safety grants


By Larry Mitchell
Chico Enterprise-Record

OROVILLE, Calif. — Lives will be saved because of a federal grant the Butte County Public Health Department has been awarded, Mark Lundberg, the county health officer, said Wednesday.

Among other things, the $102,000 grant will enable the Health Department to hold workshops for Hmong parents and others, encouraging them to make sure their small children sit in car seats when they are in vehicles.

The Health Department's award was one of five local grants that were announced on Wednesday.

The others were:

• $173,000 to Butte County Probation for intensive probation supervision of high-risk felony and repeat DUI offenders.

• $82,000 to the town of Paradise for the Avoid DUI program.

• $75,000 to the city of Orland for the Avoid DUI program.

• $40,000 to the Red Bluff Police Department for a mapping system.

The money is part of $77 million that has been awarded in 252 grants to state and local agencies in California, according to a press release sent out Wednesday by the state Office of Traffic Safety.

Chris Cochran, a spokesman for that office, said the Avoid DUI program has been going on for years. The money pays for overtime for police officers to put in extra time staffing DUI checkpoints and special operations to catch drunken drivers.

Typically, one police department in a county coordinates a task force made up of officers from a number of departments who work in these operations, he said.

He said the mapping system for the Red Bluff police department would provide for a computerized method of mapping such things as which intersections have the most accidents and areas where speeders are most often reported.

The Buckle Up for Life program, which is what Butte County Public Health received its grant for, involves car seats for children from birth to 8 years old, he said.

In an email, Cochran said, "In January, revised California child-restraint laws created a large learning curve for parents to understand these changes."

Car-seat classes will be held, his email said, and focus groups will be organized for Hmong parents to discuss how best to spread the word through their community about changes in the law and car-seat use generally.

"We are thrilled to receive this funding, and we think we can make a big difference with these funds," Lundberg said in a phone interview. "We will save lives and improve people's lives."

He said the program probably would start in October. The Board of Supervisors will need to sign a grant-award contract so that his department can receive the funds, he said.

Lundberg said he couldn't discuss details of the program because his department, which applied for the grant, had been instructed by the Office of Traffic Safety not to discuss it publicly until "the board had signed off" on the grant.

Wednesday afternoon, the Enterprise-Record called the Paradise Police Department, the Butte County Probation Department and the Red Bluff Police Department to ask about how they would use the grant money.

No one from those agencies returned the calls by deadline.

Copyright 2012 MediaNews Group, Inc. and ANG Newspapers




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