PARKERSBURG -Wood County's Community Corrections Day Report Center has a new home at 916 Market St.
The alternative sentencing program was formerly housed in part of Towne Square not owned by the county, paying $1,350 a month in rent. The new location provides about double the amount of space and is located in a building owned by the Wood County Senior Citizens Association, renting for $2,400 monthly.
"Our new location offers a larger lobby area with security entrance, which we didn't have before. We have approximately double the amount of space we had at the old location. There are 11 offices, two meetings rooms, which also serve as counseling space, and an intake room. We also now have room for expansion. We have space for parking at the side of the building. It's much quieter and the counselors have more privacy for their groups," said Erin Marte, interim director for the DRC.
Former DRC liaison Gary Deem left the program once renovations to the new offices were complete. The renovations, which cost an estimated $50,000-$55,000 and included about $12,000 worth of DRC client community service sweat equity labor, began in November. The new offices moved and opened for business at the new location around the first of February.
"The individuals in our program are treated as someone who needs a second chance. We need to keep morale up and we need to assure confidentiality. We had a small facility at our other location, and we have a lot more security here, which is one of my big focuses and now we have the ability to expand. We couldn't offer additional classes at the other location. We couldn't have the evening shifts, offer more classes, now we can and we have a safer, more secure, quiet and centralized location right here on Market Street," Marte said, noting a grand opening ceremony for the facility is planned, but no date has been set.
Renovations, which were overseen by county maintenance supervisor Melvin Swiger and Deem included building walls, painting, making sure fire alarm and other systems met code requirements, getting phone and computer systems installed, new carpet installed and other remodeling.
Marte said currently the DRC serves about 92 clients and an additional 15-17 through the drug court program.
"The DRC currently serves Wood County, we get referrals from Wirt and Jackson counties, especially for the Batterers Intervention Program. We are planning to expand to take clients here from those counties plus Pleasants and Ritchie. The drug court is expanding to Doddridge as well. That should happen in the next few months, we've talked with the officials, we're just working out the details," Marte said.
Working in conjunction with Stephen Collins, from the Southern Regional Community Corrections Program, who has been retained on an hourly basis as a consultant, the drug lab will be set up.
"It isn't ready yet, the equipment is supposed to be in within the next seven-10 days. There will be a lab technician hired and we will be able to do testing for urine and saliva samples, no blood. Right now we're sending the samples to a lab in Virginia for testing. With the lab here, we will be able to do the testing for our program, Home Confinement and take in other agencies as well and hopefully become self-sufficient," she said.
"By providing additional room, additional services can be offered. DRC participants not only receive counseling, they learn life skills, get help with resumes, and other skills to get a job, get their GED. The old facility was kind of holding us back. We want to give them the life skills they need so they won't reoffend, avoid addiction. It's not just about keeping them out of the regional jail to cut down costs, although that too is a factor," said Wood County Commissioner Blair Couch, who serves as the commission liaison to the DRC board and was recently elected chairman of that board.
"We are in the process now of advertising for a new executive director for the DRC," Couch said.
Funding for the rental, utilities and operating expenses of the DRC are paid from the DRC's budget, which includes grant funding.