PARKERSBURG - Wood County commissioners agreed to contribute $1,500 for this year's Safetytown at Fairplains Elementary School.
The commission contributed $2,000 to the event last year. Safetytown is sponsored by North Parkersburg Kiwanis Club, and costs $7,000-$8,000 to operate. The event is June 18-29.
"It's difficult to solicit donations from the community. We are trying, sending out letters and talking to people, but the economy is a factor," said Wayne Sanders.
Photo by Pamela Brust
Representatives of Parkersburg Safetytown asked Wood County commissioners for a donation during a meeting Monday. The commissioners agreed to contribute $1,500 to the program.
Sanders, along with Safetytown director MaryAnn Osborne and members of the Kiwanis Club and other Safetytown supporters, met with the commissioners Monday seeking help. Osborne said they have asked for funding from the United Way Alliance of the Mid-Ohio Valley and other sources.
The 26-year-old program offers comprehensive safety training for children who will be entering first grade in the fall. The program served about 100 children last year, Osborne said there is capacity for 200. The program is free to the children.
"We get a lot of volunteer help, and donations like materials, books, videos, speakers. The biggest expense is for printing materials and staff salaries," she said. Sanders said Wood County teachers work with the children at the camp in addition to speakers who come in.
"Our goal is to save lives," Sanders said.
Osborne noted in addition to fire, pedestrian, motorist and water safety, police officers speak to the children, and the kids also learn about Internet safety. The students are instructed in bus safety, toy safety, bike safety and identifying and avoiding poisonous objects.
"Some people have criticized us for contributing to community organizations like this, but we don't feel it's wasteful, this is an important program and we need to support volunteers and groups like yours," said commission President Blair Couch.
Commissioners voted unanimously to make the donation. Prior to the meeting, Commissioner Wayne Dunn said he is a member of the Kiwanis, he voted along with his fellow commissioners for the donation.
Parents interested in enrolling their children in the program, which is free of charge, can get an application and more information by calling 304-422-2944.