Prosecuting Attorney Timothy Haught appeared before Wetzel County Commission Tuesday morning regarding the renewal of the Victims Of Crime Act grant and to request that the county commission match $4,642 of the $18,568 grant funds that the Wetzel County Prosecuting Attorney's office receives from the state. Haught explained that the VOCA grant funds help to support the county's victim advocate, Terry Long.
Haught stated he believes having a victim's advocate has been very successful and very helpful. "One area that the victim's advocate has been most successful with is keeping victims informed and obtaining restitution for them," he said. Haught noted that, over the past decade, well over $100,000 has been recovered by his office. These funds can range from restitution on forgeries and utterings, to bad checks and stolen damaged checks, to medical bills and funeral expenses, and more.
He added, "Victims of crime are very appreciative for what Terry does. Sometimes he has to provide transportation, because many victims do not have transportation . . . We have to make arrangements for counseling for victims as well, particularly victims of sexual assault."
Haught also stated that Long has been the second victim's advocate that the prosecuting attorney's office has had and that he is also a former deputy sheriff. "He's very well acquainted with people in the county and the situation here in Wetzel County," Haught stated.
Furthermore, Haught expressed appreciation to Commissioner Larry Lemon, who previously represented West Virginia's U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller. Haught explained that VOCA grant funds have been threatened federally in times past and that Rockefeller has always supported the funds. "I think all of our federal elected people have supported us in terms of this. . . this does come in part from federal money, in part through TIS (Truth in Sentencing program), Department of Justice . . . It's been very beneficial for us, particularly in areas of domestic violence. We have a lot of domestic cases."
"This isn't a great deal of money," President Don Mason noted.
"It's not," Haught agreed. "We won't get a great deal of money. We've asked for more, and we are limited in terms of what we do. Terry serves a dual function." He added, "Some of the things he does are purely grant-related and some of the things he does are investigative related.
"This is actually set up in Wetzel for a part-time victim's advocate, the way this salary is." He added, "So he is a part-time victim's advocate and a part-time investigator . . . I'm very fortunate to have him."
In another matter, Jenny Coyne, Regional Marketing Manager for the West Virginia Retirement Plus Program, requested that the commission allow her to meet with county employees to discuss her program. Coyne explained that city employees have recently rolled over from Nationwide to the program. "The city looked back and saw a $500 payment to Nationwide for managing the retirement account," she added, stating WV Retirement Plus does not charge for managing retirement accounts.
She added, "The benefits of participating with one the Treasurer provides is that you don't have to wait until 59 to draw it. Whenever you retire, you should get it. With the distribution of funds, you can take it however you want, from whatever age you want. You will pay taxes on it, based on what age bracket you want. You can start and stop without penalties. You don't have to contribute for three months if you don't want to."
Coyne added, "There is a minimum of $10 a pay. It's affordable. There is no minimum of employees. We are just going to tell employees the benefits of investing with ING. If they want to enroll, they can roll money over with no need."
She also explained that no fees are paid to a stockbroker. "No one is charged a commission." Furthermore, "If you call up and get a check dispersed to you, there is no handling or processing fee. If you have had a catastrophic event, a letter to the treasurer is all you need."
Coyne stated that once a person retires, he or she is not forced to take the money out. "You can leave it in there as long as you want."
It was decided that Coyne would be available for county employes March 19 at the courthouse.
Coyne also wanted the public to know that she would be available the third Tuesday of each month, 10 a.m. to noon, at the city building's conference room to discuss unclaimed property, SMART 529, and 457 Retirement plan.