Update: County applies for grant to address domestic violence

BEDFORD – The Lawrence County Commissioners approved a grant application of $5,000 for the STOP Violence Against Women Formula Grant Program. The grant has a 25 percent match which will be paid for with user fees.

“The ultimate goal is to have offenders never lay a hand on another person again,” said Joe Diebert, Director at Lawrence County Community Corrections. “Domestic violence is rampant in Lawrence County and it will be an uphill battle. But I want to use every last penny to help these individuals.”

Hoosier Uplands also awarded the county $10,000 to help the victims with counseling, be informed, and develop safety plans.

“We can’t force victims to participate,” Diebert added. “But we can provide the help. So far we have had 4 participate in the program.”

The STOP (Services, Training, Officers, Prosecutors) Violence Against Women Formula Grant Program was authorized by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) of 1994 and reauthorized by subsequent legislation.

The grant program encourages partnerships between law enforcement, prosecution, courts, and victim services organizations to enhance victim safety and hold offenders accountable in cases of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

“The goal is to develop and strengthen law enforcement, prosecution, and court strategies to combat violent crimes against women and men and to develop and strengthen victim services, including community-based, culturally specific services, in cases involving domestic violence,” said Diebert.

In other business, the commissioners approved an auxiliary courtroom to be constructed in the Courthouse Plaza contingent on costs. Bid packets will be released soon. The first step is to advertise it in the newspaper. That advertisement will have the release dates for the bid packets.

The plans are for a 3,100 square foot courtroom in the former WorkOne office space at Courthouse Plaza.

At a December meeting, former Judge William Sleva points out how the 3,100 square feet space will be used for the new courtroom.

The commissioners approved the final plot for Stonehaven subdivision located off Old State Road 37 at the Monroe/Lawrence County line.

The first phase will include 1,200 feet of road, six lots complete with sewers, with plans for a second phase that will add an additional 40 more lots.

Highway Superintendent David Holmes updated the commissioners on bridge projects and preparing for the paving season.

David Holmes

Highway crews are patching potholes, working on culverts, and ditching to prepare the roads for the paving process. Paving should begin in June.

Holmes did say the county was having a hard time getting the materials needed to include culverts.

“We have several on order, but we are having a hard time getting them,” added Holmes.

The county received $552,240 in federal transportation funds to replace road signs to meet the latest national retro-reflective standards set by the Federal Highway Administration. These funds will not replace road name signs. The project in District 1 is completed, but Holmes told the commissioner some of the signs were placed too high and others were not level.

“Once they fix those issues we can sign off on the project and they will move on to the other districts,” added Holmes.

It could take up to four years to complete the project.

Emergency Management Valerie Luchauer expressed sympathy after the death of 911 dispatcher Shaun Kinser. Kinser died Monday from his injuries after a vehicle fell off a floor jack while he was changing the oil of a vehicle.

911 Dispatcher Shaun Kinser

Luchauer expressed gratitude to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department for reaching out to the department and providing food and drinks for the dispatchers and officers Tuesday morning.

Valerie Luchauer

Sheriff Mike Branham who was emotional this morning over Kinser’s death expressed his sympathy to Kinser’s family.

The commissioners also expressed their sympathy to the family and sheriff’s department.

“It is heartwrenching, and been a rough night,” said Sheriff Branham while fighting back tears. “He was one of the best and he will be missed.”

Sheriff Mike Branham

Sheriff Branham reported there were 150 inmates in the jail this morning. Of those 120 were males, 30 females, two Level 6 felons, six Department of Correction holds and two parole holds.

“Our numbers are down from 167 which is high, but we will see the numbers are still high at 150 for this time of year,” he added.

Sheriff Branham added there was a judicial review meeting on Monday with law enforcement, court officials, and prosecutors.

“There was a lot of input received and we are working together efficiently to keep the numbers down,” he added.