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Commission Hears Need For Homeless Stations

By Staff | May 22, 2019

During its regular May 14, meeting, the Wetzel County Commission met with Lisa Gonzales from Community Resources regarding the Esther Crumbley Fund request for funding family development programs and homeless stations. She told the commission that she was there to talk about the issue of homelessness which seems to be a growing problem locally.

She noted she’ been working with other organizations trying to figure out things to do and ways to help, noting this is where she grew up. ” My mother, grandmother and my children graduated from Magnolia,” stated Gonzales. “So that tells how important this town is to me.”

She said when she was growing up, they could leave their doors unlocked, and neighbors watched out for each other. “Many people are now living in fear and for good reason, the police departments are working hard but have their hands full they are overrun with problems,” added Gonzales.

She said she has spoken to the Prosecuting Attorney Tim Haught who is doing research on the problem. She stated she takes people to the homeless shelter in Wheeling constantly, and a lot of times they don’t even have beds available. “We often find people don’t want to go to shelters because they are afraid,” she said. She stated that in a perfect world we don’t have these problems. However, we do have them and they’re escalating.

Gonzales gave some examples of what she sees every day and said she is getting burnt out because she sees so much of the drug addiction. She added she tries to get them help if they don’t want it. However, she said there are other things going on as well. She gave an example of a senior woman 65 years old living in a tent at the Hannibal Locks and Dam before there was a city ordinance prohiibiting living in the tents there. She said the lady couldn’t make it on her social security so she went to work and subsequently lost her social security benefit..

According to Gonzales, the lady got cancer and came to community resources seeking a gas card to help her get to her treatments. Gonzales said she helped the lady get some of her social security back and secure a place to live in the towers. “She still had her cancer to deal with and no family to help her. That’s just one form of homelessness,” stated Gonzales.

She spoke about young girls in Section eight housing constantly moving men in to live with them, the young girls think they’re in love and have children. According to the regulations with Section eight housing they only have 14 days that they can have someone living with them, so they get kicked out with no where to go. She said the cheapest you can find rent right now is $600 per month.

Gonzales said it’s great oil and gas has come to the area bringing jobs and wealth, however, it is also bringing other things in that she never expected to see. She noted that these are the kind of things that she thought happened in New York.

These girls have young babies and nowhere to go and the only option she has at this point is to try to find them a place which can cost up to $1,600 to get them moved in.

Gonzales does taxes for free, not just for the low income. She said that everyone has an opinion and she has heard all of them, however the end result for her is that she doesn’t care who they are or what they’ve done, we need to feed them and shelter them.

Gonzales stated that sex trafficking is rampant from Columbus through here. She said that a lot of the missing kids on Facebook are from sex trafficking.

She said that she gets burned out with it, while helpingwith utilites and preventing them from getting their termination notices are easy the other things are getting harder. She isn’t sure how to deal with it other than getting a group organization together.

Gonzales said that some of the people that come to her for help get $600 in SNAP for a family of four and spend it in 10 days. She teaches them to meal plan. She admitted that they do not like her doing that because they view it as her trying to tell them what to do. However, she’s trying to do it for their own good.

Gonzales has been talking to United Way and they are getting her a grant writer they are for this so much that they will also fund a raise for her. The person who handles Youth Services has been working with her as well. She said that she can get the people together and she can be forceful. She said she brought the Gabriel Project here and during the initial meeting colleected $20,000 in pledges. . She said that she will do whatever she has to do but she can’t do it without a building. She requested a building to centralize everything.

The commission asked Gonzales to look around and see what’s available and then come back to the commission to share what they find.

In another matter, the commission met with Rhonda Spencer, Recorder for the town of Pine Grove regarding an update on their new Canine. He had some issues with his bottom lip when they did the bite drill. It would fold in as he was biting it. It is unsure if it’s still happening because they discontinued the bite training. The option was to trade him out for another duel purpose dog or just use him as single purpose which is everything but the bite. He will still do the article search, building sweeps, tracking and narcotics. Everything that was in the contract before, he will still do except the bite. This dropped the price from $8,200 to $4,800. With them putting the $4,100 down all that is owed now is $700 and he will be paid for.

In another matter, a motion was made and unanimously approved for the Wetzel County Commission to enter into a depository agreement with WesBanco, Inc.

Also, a motion passed to approve the request for $23,927 to the Pine Grove Volunteer Fire Department for Air Packs, Radios and a trailer for their side by side.

A decision on the hearing for the Eleanor Leu Estate was deferred until the next meeting until they get clarification from their legal council.