Commission Approves VOCA Grant Application
BY AMY WITSCHEY, Editor
Commissioners unanimously approved Feb. 25 a grant application submitted by Prosecuting Attorney Tim Haught to obtain funds through the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) program. The grant, requesting $16,380, was due March 6.
The VOCA grant funds will be used for a variety of victim related services under the direction of Terry Long, victims advocate/investigator, who works through the prosecuting attorney’s office. The VOCA program helps victims of crimes, adults as well as children, understand what their legal options may be and what services are available to them.
“The grant has worked well because it pays for approximately half of his salary,” said Haught. On average the advocate serves 125 victims per year.
In 2008 Wetzel County dealt with 94 felonies, 737 misdemeanors, 34 juveniles, and 25 abuse/neglect cases. Those numbers do not include mental hygiene cases of over 100 per year.
“That number has gone up dramatically since I have been mental hygiene commissioner,” noted Haught. “There’s no such thing as victimless crime,” said the prosecutor. “The way our legal system is set up the trauma continues until the case comes to a resolution,”
Lemley asked about the level of trauma in sexual abuse cases in the county.
“Often times the family is in denial,” said Haught. In Wetzel County most perpetrators are family members or significant others of the family. In fact, he said the vast majority are boyfriends of the victim’s mother.
“Often our victims are petrified of going to court and having to tell it over again,” said Haught. With that in mind, his office often tries to find resolutions that will spare the victim. “In reality, the plea agreement is a positive thing in the eyes of the victim,” noted Haught.
Haught explained Long also helps get restitution for crime victims. He has collected well over $100,000 restitution since Haught has been the county’s prosecutor.
In another matter, the commission approved $5,000 toward the repair of the roof on the Hundred Senior Citizen Center. The repair is estimated to cost $13,200.
Also, Heather McAbee, regional manager for Community Resources Inc., updated the commission on the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program available at the local office. Sponsored by the Internal Revenue Service, West Virginia Alliance for Sustainable Families, and funded by West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, the service prepares free tax returns for families with incomes of $45,000 or less.
At the time of her report, McAbee said the local office had prepared 78 free tax returns. Of those, 25 had received the Earned Income Tax Credit and five were eligible for the Child Tax Credit.
“That has saved the community quite a bit,” noted McAbee.
Finally, some additional paperwork for the funding for the new 911 Call Center was completed. It made WesBanco the trustee registrar and set up a separate escrow account at the bank. The draw schedule has been established and it includes using current 911 funds before touching the bond money of up to $1 million. This practice should save the county approximately $25,000 in interest expense.