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Commissioners hear update on Wood County Juvenile Drug Court’s progress

Family Court Judge C. Darren Tallman gave the Wood County Commission an update Monday on what has been happening with the local Juvenile Drug Court program. The mission of the Drug Court is to reduce substance use and delinquent conduct among youthful offenders by providing them and their families with intensive, comprehensive and individualized therapeutic services, along with consistent judicial monitoring and accountability. (Photo by Brett Dunlap)

PARKERSBURG — The Wood County Juvenile Drug Court continues to try to get young people off the destructive cycle of drug abuse.

Family Court Judge C. Darren Tallman gave the Wood County Commission an update Monday on efforts to reduce substance abuse in the community by working with young offenders to get them to make better decisions and change their behaviors.

The mission of the Drug Court is to reduce substance use and delinquent conduct among youthful offenders by providing them and their families with intensive, comprehensive and individualized therapeutic services, along with consistent judicial monitoring and accountability. The program has had kids as young as pre-teens.

The program, which started in 2010, has seen 124 kids go through it. It currently has 15 people in the program which is about average. The program has had 71 graduates.

“We have figured that is a 64 percent being successful,” Tallman said. “We have some young men in the armed forces, we have students in college now and we have a lot of our graduates living here in the community that many people see every day and don’t even realize it.

Janelle Comstock of the Mid-Ohio Valley Workforce Development Board appeared before the Wood County Commission on Monday to give an overview of their services. The board provides services and assistance to help adult dislocated workers find long-term employment. (Photo by Brett Dunlap)

“We are proud of our program.”

Tallman said the county’s financial support goes towards incentives, such as gift cards. The program is based on incentives and sanctions. Incentives can be rewards while sanctions can mean additional time in the program, house arrest and more. Each participant is held accountable for their actions, he added.

“Strong support from the community is essential for drug court,” Tallman said. “We couldn’t do it without our volunteers.”

Many people have given freely of their time to make sure the program works and there is assistance to those who need it, Tallman said.

Jeff Thomas, who serves on the group’s treatment team, was awarded 2019 Hero of Hope Award by the organization during the presentation before the county commission.

The local program is one of the longest running and continuous drug courts in the state, Tallman said.

“The participants we have are all individual kids and they all have individual issues and require individual solutions,” he said. “We can’t do it all, but we want to be a part of the solution.”

Tallman said they are concerned about the local growing homeless population, especially from those who were in treatment programs but who were unable to finish as there is a concern about relapsing and reoffending. Some of those end up in the adult drug court and the criminal justice system.

Tallman said they had a young man who passed away recently who was unable to beat his addiction. Tallman said he knew of the struggles the young man faced.

“It is one of the things we are trying to prevent,” he said, adding the individual’s family wants his struggles to be able to help others on their road to recovery.

“They want his memory honored,” Tallman said.

In their program, they are always mindful that something bad can happen.

“That is why we try so hard to prevent it,” he said.

In other business, representatives of the Mid-Ohio Valley Workforce Development Board appeared before the commission to talk about the Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act.

The board has a region which covers nine counties — Pleasants, Ritchie, Roane, Jackson, Wood, Wirt, Mason, Clay and Calhoun — which provides services and assistance to help adult dislocated workers find long-term employment.

“We help them to retrain, get back into school, retrain and uptrain for what they need to be doing,” said Janelle Comstock. “We help employers with on-the-job training opportunity dollars as well as transitional job workers, apprenticeships and more.

“We have done quite a bit throughout our counties.”

The board provides Youth Work Experience, Transitional Jobs, On the Job Training, Incumbent Worker Training, Customized Training, Registered Apprenticeship and more. It has been able to connect people with employers in need of workers, including Kreinik Manufacturing, the local water treatment plant and other groups and organizations locally.

Commissioner Bob Tebay said the county has a shortage of emergency medical technicians to which the board has been working to address through training opportunities.

“We are helping businesses to be able to stay within their communities, counties and the region they are in,” Comstock said.

In other business:

∫ The commission nominated Steve Scholl, Jane Wise, Blaine Auville, JJ Barrett, Randy Lowe, Barbara Holtz, Pat Sole, Jason Matthews, Tim Thomas, Mike Shook and Patricia Stutler to the Wood County Local Emergency Planning Committee.

∫ The commission appointed Mike Goldsberry to the Wood County Recreation Commission.

∫ The commission appointed Dave Lawson to the Lubeck Public Service District.

∫ The commission appointed Larry Barnhart, Steve Worden, Tony Boggs, Joshua Downey, Michelle Rusen, Charles Hasse and Tiffany Kiger to the Wood County Community Corrections Advisory Board

∫ The commission nominated William Summers for reappointment to the Wood County Parks and Recreation Commission (Mountwood Park).

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