VHS Officer Has Made A Difference
At the Wetzel County Commission meeting Feb. 17 Wetzel County Schools Superintendent Bill Jones and representatives from Valley High School met with the commission to discuss financial plans for the Prevention Resource Officer (PRO) program currently implemented at Valley High School. The representatives included special needs teacher Kristi Earley, business education teacher Janet Moore, and Principal Shane Highley.
For the past two years, VHS has had a full-time PRO, Deputy Donald Bordenkircher, on the school grounds. Other than Bordenkircher, there is no law enforcement in town. The VHS representatives stressed how helpful Bordenkircher had been to them and the students, not only providing safety but also acting as a valuable resource for the school and a strong mentor to the students. “We’ve not had a discipline problem that has come to the board since the PRO program started,” said Bill Jones. “It’s been a blessing for us.”
Hundred High School has city police and two former Hundred graduate state troopers who come in often. Also, Bordenkircher walks through Short Line School often and attends Valley sporting events on his own accord to provide his services to the school and community. Paden City schools have made no request to the board for law enforcement. The board is working on a separate grant with the City of New Martinsville to fund a PRO program for Magnolia High School as well as working on another grant to fund Valley’s program for the next two fiscal years.
The commission was presented with an informational binder on how the PRO program has benefited VHS. The mission of the PRO program is “bridging the gap between law enforcement and education.” The commission was impressed and very happy to see that the program was doing so much for the school and said they have every intention to help fund the program again.
“The issue is funding,” Commissioner Scott Lemley said. “I’m a big fan of the program and I hope we can continue the program some way or another.” The commission will be holding their budget meetings soon. “There have been obligations put on us that we haven’t had before,” Commission President Don Mason explained further. The grant for VHS is due by the end of the month and the commission has requested they have a copy of the grant application before submission to help ensure state funding is awarded.
At the commission meeting held Feb. 23 Wetzel County Prosecutor Tim Haught was present to move forward with the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grant application that partially funds Haught’s Victim’s Advocate Terry Long. Since 2001 Haught has filed this grant application yearly to provide partial funding for Long’s vital position in the community. The Wetzel County Commission has always matched some of the funding as well, providing for some of his salary. The Victim’s Advocate program helps roughly 125 Wetzel County victims each year.
A former deputy sheriff, Long holds several important job duties as the Victim’s Advocate. He works between law enforcement and the victim, and the prosecutor’s office and the victim. He supplies victims with referrals for other services like counseling and other helpful programs and helps with various expenses and transportation. Long also prepares victim impact reports and is responsible for keeping track of restitution and providing necessary information to the prosecutor’s office. Possibly most importantly, Long helps prepare victims to testify. Particularly with sexually assaulted victims, preparation and patience are necessary to make the victim feel comfortable and able to testify.
Additionally, Long works as an investigator for the prosecutor’s office. “He’s been very helpful to me and we have better served the victims of crime in Wetzel County,” Haught expressed. “I hope we can continue to fund this program.”
The grant requires a signature by Commission President Don Mason as well as a resolution to send with the application. The commission moved to give Mason permission to sign the application, resolution, and any other documents pertaining to the forwarding of the VOCA grant.
In other matters, David Goddard approached the Wetzel County Commission on behalf of the Wetzel County Fire Fighter’s Association to request the use of the Mollohan Center for a Fire Academy Class to be held April 24 and 25. Additionally, the Fire Fighter’s Association requested the use of the center free of charge. The commission motioned to approve the use of the center and also waived the fee for the association.