PARIS — The town “has a very good chance” of being awarded an $72,000 Safe Neighborhood grant, which would help with battling the area’s heroin epidemic and put at-risk youth on the path to success, according to Terry Holden of the Maine Office of Community Development.

She told attendees during the June 13 public hearing on the grant there is $700,000 available and five communities have applied. Besides Paris, they include Augusta, Bath, Old Orchard Beach and Rockland.

“I think most everyone has a very good chance of being funded,” Holden said. “There isn’t anybody who’s doing anything that’s ineligible at this point.”

Detective Sgt. Mike Dailey fielded most of the questions on the grant and noted Paris does not have to give a match, if it is selected.

“We’re not adding staff, we’re just adding programs, adding services,” he said.

He said some of the money would be earmarked for Project SaveME, a countywide program so those battling heroin or opioid addiction can ask a police agency for help and be paired with a recovery coach without the fear of being arrested.

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“Unfortunately, Oxford Hills has a heroin epidemic. It’s not … to supplement our duties as law enforcement officers,” Dailey said. “We’re not going to go out and solicit people into this program. They come to us. Hopefully it will have a positive effect on the community.”

Outgoing Selectman Sam Elliot wondered about baseline data to see how effective the program is.

“To date, 10 people have been saved,” Dailey said. “They’ve been put into programs to help them through their addictions. That’s been since late 2015 when all this started,” Dailey said. “If they don’t reoffend, I think we’ve been successful.”

Resident Rick Little wanted to know how many of the 10 were from Paris.

Dailey said he wasn’t sure but he could find out.

Other plans for the grant, if awarded, include:

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* Reinstating the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program at Paris Elementary School;

* Creating a police athletics program for at-risk youth;

* Obtaining drug testing and surveillance equipment for police cruisers;

* Obtaining training from the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency; and

* Using the school resource officer during the summertime for programming and establishing relationships with the town’s youth.

Board of Selectmen Chairman Mike Risica asked if still DARE existed.

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Dailey said Oxford Elementary School is the only elementary school SAD 17 that has one.

Police Chief Hartley “Skip” Mowatt said the last time Paris had a DARE program was 10 years ago when he ran it.

Selectman Janet Jamison asked if there were guidelines on how the grant money is spent.

Dailey said roughly $15,000 would be allocated for athletics and between $15,000 and $20,000 for training and equipment.

Holden said she would monitor a spreadsheet to see how much in each category had been expended from the grant total.

“You have to tie whatever it is you’re looking to purchase [as an] increase in your community policing services,” she said, adding this has to affect low- to moderate-income residents and address drug issues in the community. “The goal for this program – and this is a pilot program – is to help address and hopefully mitigate some of the heroin epidemic that’s going on … by building relationships.”

The town should hear within two or three weeks whether it will be awarded the money, Dailey said.

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