Public Defenders Hiring Request Tabled Again

(BEDFORD) – Public Defender Bruce Andis’ request to hire another public defender was tabled again for a second time during the Lawrence County Council meeting on Tuesday night.

Andis is short-staffed and another public defender will be leaving in June which will cause a shortage of attorneys to handle Level 4 to Level 1 felony cases.

Also, Andis advised the Lawrence County Council members that the office has been out of compliance for state funding this last quarter, and will be out of compliance for another quarter.

“They will overlook this one time, but they will not let this go on for very much longer,” he added. “If it continues the state funding for the program could be affected. Also, the salary for the position may be affecting the attorney’s willingness to apply for the position which is at $48,000 a year. “Greene County is offering the position at $70,000 a year, and have not had any applicants since January.”

The county is using contract attorneys to cover some cases. If this continues much longer it will cost the county additional money.

Councilmember David Flinn, who is the liaison for the Public Defenders Office, will be meeting with Andis to discuss the issue.

In other business, David Holmes’s request to move $130,000 from the Motor Vehicle Fund to the restricted fund was approved. This was required by the State Department of Local Finance.

Billie Tumey’s request for an additional appropriation for the election was approved. The request of $13,000 will be used for the upcoming election including $3,000 for postage. The remaining amount will be used for other election items such as ballots and other materials.

Chief Deputy Prosecutor Bob Cline reports there are 46 graduates from the inmates sent to treatment. One was sent back to jail, 43 had clean urine tests, 2 did not have clean urine, and is remaining on a tight program.

This treatment takes place at no additional cost to the county.

“The 45 who are not in jail are urine screened every week. I am getting positive feedback from the parents,” Deputy Prosecutor Cline stated. “One parent commented – ‘I have my daughter back’.”

Cline went on to say if those 45 offenders would have been incarcerated for 30 days each in jail it would have cost the county $55 a day per inmate. Cline says this program has saved Lawrence County taxpayers $74,250.

The Lawrence County Extension Office provided a quarterly report. There were more than 3,157 participants in programs.

Lawrence County is home to more than 800 farms that produce and raise a variety of agriculture commodities for everyday needs.

In 2018, Lawrence County farmers produced more than 3.3 million bushels of corn, 1.4 million bushels of soybeans, and 52,000 bushels of wheat.

There were many challenges during the 2019 planting and harvest season. Local farmers were invited to a whiteboard and roundtable type discussion to learn about the current market environment, risk management solutions, and more and were able to ask industry experts questions.

An educational meeting was organized for local producers allowing them the opportunity to learn about grain marketing and information on what influences commodity markets.

Nearly half of the participants did not currently utilize grain marketing strategies to manage commodity price fluctuations. 82 percent reported making changes to marketing strategies for commodities and 100 percent shared tips and tools from provided program materials to assist in strategic planning for farming operations and learning new risk management strategies for crop production.