A crime-fighting initiative imperiled by the prospect of deep budget cuts picked up an unexpected gift Friday, to the delight of organizers who hope it leads to more good news.
York County Solicitor Kevin Brackett said his office will give $10,000 to Rock Hill's Weed & Seed program, with the money to come from cash seized in drug deals.
"I was ecstatic," said Lonnie Harvey, chairman of the Weed & Seed committee. "Now, we have to see if we can get some others who maybe want to pitch in or match that."
Federal money given to the Weed & Seed initiative was slashed 35 percent from last year, news that disappointed local volunteers relying on the program to drive urban renewal in five aging neighborhoods near downtown.
The cuts left City Hall with access to $150,000 in federal cash, $50,000 less than expected. Brackett said he read about the shortfall in The Herald and realized he had a way to help.
"They're really making strides," he said of Weed & Seed volunteers. "When I heard about the budget cuts, it concerned me and started the wheels spinning to see what I might be able to do. I sure hope it inspires other people to not only contribute, but get involved."
The $10,000 infusion will fully restore projects that otherwise would be scaled back or eliminated. Among them are domestic violence classes put on by Safe Passage, drug addiction counseling from Keystone Substances Abuse Services and after-school activities at Liberty Community Church, Harvey and Brackett said.
Brackett, who succeeded Tommy Pope, is up for re-election this fall but doesn't have any declared opposition. Both he and Harvey encouraged civic groups, churches and other local organizations to donate time and resources to energize the project.
They talked about their hopes over breakfast at Starbucks on Friday morning.
"That's the best cup of tea I've had in a long time," Harvey said.