Pocahontas Commission Hears From Community Corrections Clients
Marlinton, WV – Pocahontas County Community Corrections Coordinator Elissa Taylor updated the County Commission during its meeting on Tuesday morning. The Community Corrections program provides the judicial system with sentencing alternatives for adult offenders who may require less than institutional custody.
During the update, three community corrections participants told commissioners how the program had affected their lives. Kristy Moore tells commissioners the program isn’t easy.
“I got a job and my son’s very well taken care of,” she said. “We have parenting classes on how to teach you to do that. They push us hard. They’re not easy on us, but that’s what it takes.”
DeAnna Gladwell said Community Corrections allows her to learn to deal with real world struggles, that she wouldn’t be doing inside a jail.
“You have to definitely want it,” she said. “To me, I think this program gives you the chance and the opportunity to do everyday things and deal with that struggle, versus sitting in a jail cell.”
Elissa Taylor says drug offenders tell her it’s more difficult to sell drugs in Pocahontas County lately.
“They can tell you now, it’s not as easy as to go out on the street and sell,” she said. “Before, here, in Pocahontas County, they didn’t even really have to hide. They could just go down to the gazebo. Now, they can’t do that.”
Commissioner Martin Saffer says the legislature needs to do more to regulate the original sources of prescription drugs.
“The main supplier of these drugs, which would be doctors and pharmacies and Walmarts and Rite-Aids and this kind of thing,” he said. “I see the Legislature is far behind in really tightening the wrench on the faucet.”
“If you have a prescription, you have a gold mine,” he said.
In other business, High Rocks Academy executive director Sarah Riley requested a $12,000 matching donation for next fiscal year, to support Americorps volunteer programs at the school.
Riley said Americorps volunteers are working on a new initiative – the Farm to School program. In general, the program connects schools and local farms with the objectives of serving healthy meals in schools, improving student nutrition and supporting local farmers. Riley says the state has offered a generous incentive to schools to buy local foods.
“So, as we, in Pocahontas County, start to try and grow more producers and help more producers make steps to marketing their stuff locally, the school is a great, great institutional buyer, where people can start to have a real project, where they come together with schools,” she said. “Actually, the state legislature just approved $250,000 for school systems to buy local foods. It’s a direct reimbursement. The first person to spend $250,00 gets it, courtesy of the State of West Virginia. So, we have to be on this kind of opportunities.”
Saffer notes the Commission has provided more than $50,000 to the academy during the last two years.
“Fifty-one thousand dollars – the commission has put into High Rocks in the last two years, and now, you’re asking us for an additional $10,000 for this year – $12,000,” he said.
The director says she expects the local food program to become self-sufficient.
“I know, by next year, that we’ll have enough partner sites,” she said. “We’ll bring on at least two more partner sites, which will cover that $12,000, but we’re not there yet.”
Susan Burt, High Rocks Americorps project manager, tells the Commission about a prescription drug youth forum that the academy sponsored.
“We had the sheriff; we had Bob Must, who’s a physician; and we had this recovering Mom’s group, which I have been working with, on the side – not really for High Rocks,” she said. “Three recovering moms, who have been arrested and had their kids taken away and are clean and they really wanted to do something in the community.”
Burt said 22 students participated in the forum, and had the opportunity to interview the sheriff, the doctor and the drug abuse survivors. The commission will consider the $12,000 request during its next meeting.