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ACJS contemplates less money

The Othello Outlook of Othello, Washington

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Shortfalls in the state budget may mean Adams County Juvenile Services (ACJS) will not receive the entire $40, 000 in additional funding originally promised this year.

That's what administrator Juan Garza told county comissioners during their meeting Sept. 8.

"Our state funding was looking pretty good, but it has changed and is still changing, "Garza said.

Cutbacks in funding may be as high as 10 percent.

"Even with a worst case scenario, it would still be above the amount we have been allocated in the past, "Garza said.

Less money means potentially eliminating some services. The program most likely to be axed is Victim Offender Mediation (VOM).

"If we have to cut, that's probably the one because our other programs are just too important, "Garza said. "But I hate to cut any program."

Basically, the program puts first-time or low-risk offenders in a room with their victim so they can, hopefully, come to some sort of agreement regarding restitution.

"We have been successful with a little more than half of the people, "Garza said.

If it does get cut, the juveniles who would be put into VOM would go into the diversion program instead.

"We are not going to lose these kids, we are just not going to use this specific program, "Garza said.

There are many other programs that will remain in place, however.

ACJS will be starting a risk assessment tool to help them analyze data about different people they work with. This tool should be up and running by Oct. 2, Garza said.

Starting in January 2011, the girls who have to go through classes with ACJS should be in their own class.

"Statistically, it has been shown the girls learn much better when there are just girls in the room, "Garza said.

Some of the area's juveniles have used portions of their community service hours to build a shed for the Othello Church of the Nazarene.

"They are so proud they built something with their own hands, "Garza said. "Some of them had no idea they could do something like that. They are realizing there is more to life than just committing crime."

The food bank has been receiving a lot of food lately, so much so that some of it could go bad. ACJS is helping out.

"Twice a week, we go there and pick up the food and deliver it to families around the community who need it, "Garza said. "That way, none of the food is wasted."

ACJS is also working toward electronic home monitoring instead of detention in Martin Hall for low-risk offenders. This would save about $60 per day per person.

The commissioners also met with county officials about emergency plans for the Adams County Public Services Building and the departments it contains.

Jay Weise, coordinator, Department of Emergency Management with the Adams County Sheriffs Office, said the departments need to focus on what will occur if something were to happen to the building.

"We need to focus on continuity of operations, "Weise said. "You need to make notes and gather information. You can compile that into a plan."

Plans need to be in place so no essential programs are shut down.

While fires and other crises are possible, they are not the No. 1 priority to prepare for.

"A weather event is our biggest concern, "Weise said. "A wind storm, snow or ice."

Dealing with people working in the building is not a problem; it's people in the lobby, bathrooms, courtroom and conference rooms.

"Because we are a public entity, people are coming in off a street, "she said.

Frequently, when an alarm is tripped accidentally, people will ignore it. This is not acceptable.

"False alarms are excellent ways to pull off trainings, "Weise said.

Commissioner Rudy Plager said practice is the best way to be safe when an emergency actually occurs.

"It doesn't matter if it is just an accident or not, everyone should leave, without question, "he said.



Copyright 2010 The Othello Outlook, Othello, Washington. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

© 2011 The Othello Outlook Othello, Washington. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from DAS.

Original Publication Date: September 16, 2010



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