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Agency to be part of bigger region

A high-profile St. Joseph County agency is closer to becoming part of an eight-county region following action its board members took Tuesday.

The St. Joseph County Community Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Board authorized director Liz O’Dell to proceed with a state-mandated plan to move from a four-county district to the eight-county region.

The eight-county Region 4 takes effect Jan. 1, 2014.

O’Dell said the current arrangement has Kalamazoo County at the center of a group that also includes St. Joseph, Allegan and Cass counties.

Effective in 2014, the eight-county region will feature St. Joseph, Barry, Berrien, Branch, Calhoun, Kalamazoo, Cass and Van Buren counties.

Services for St. Joseph County residents will still be provided from the agency’s Centreville-based office, but the creation of 10 regions statewide is expected to save money by eliminating duplication of administrative services and other measures.

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