CLEARFIELD – October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the Community Action Crossroads Project needs support to help reach more victims of abuse.
At Tuesday’s Clearfield County Commissioners’ meeting, Director Suella Himes reported that 117 people died from domestic violence in Pennsylvania in 2017 and sadly two were in Clearfield County.
The county also started the current fiscal year with another death. “It tells us we need to work harder and we’re not reaching as many victims as we need to,” she said.
According to Himes, in 2017-18 Crossroads served 1,295 domestic violence victims; provided 3,721 counseling hours; and sheltered 42 people for a total of 1,027 nights.
She said Crossroads provides a 30-day emergency stay, but it’s impossible to believe a victim can come in, overcome their crisis, find employment and new housing, etc. in that timeframe.
She said the Crossroads staff works with people and grants extensions when it can. Unfortunately, she said it’s already exhausted its relocation monies and it’s only Oct. 9.
As a result, Himes said Crossroads is seeking additional programs and resources to assist the current 11 people being housed. She said if other options aren’t identified, they will continue to shelter these people because they will not send them home where it’s not safe.
In Clearfield County, she said everyone knows someone – a co-worker, friend or acquaintance – who has been affected by domestic violence. During the 2010 U.S. Census, there were 81,642 people living in the county.
One-in-four women, or 20,410, are victims of domestic violence and one-in-five men, or 16,328. “It’s very overwhelming when you look at those numbers,” she said. “And, to know you’re not able to reach as many people as you need to.”
Himes said the Crossroads hopes to draw upon community support through volunteerism and educational presentations. She also invites local businesses and churches to display their posters to create awareness.
“Everyone is in touch with somebody,” she said. “With help, it could be very impactful.”
Counselor/Legal Advocate Tammy Kyler shared information about the Crossroads Lethality Assessment Program, which was implemented in June of 2017. She explained that during a domestic call, an officer will call from on-scene.
She said a representative will speak to the victim for no more than 10 minutes to determine how to ensure their safety at that moment. Since 2017, she said Crossroads has received 17 “high-danger” calls and 12 “non-high-danger” calls with 19 people still continuing services.
Kyler said the Clearfield County Sheriff’s Department and both the Clearfield and Curwensville Borough police are participating in this program. She said other local police agencies are giving it consideration.
Crossroads has two legal offices and two shelters and is currently staffed by 12 people. However, Himes noted there were only 10 staff members up until about two months ago.
In other business, the commissioners:
- approved the new hire of Karen McCully, part-time Secretary II/Cost and Fines, effective Oct. 8.
- approved the separations/retirements of Rob Thomas, Planner/Planning & Solid Waste, effective Sept. 26; Steve Marshall, Deputy Prothonotary, effective Oct. 2; and Denise Simcox, Secretary II/Jail, effective Oct. 5.
- approved the re-appointment of Shelia Williams to the board of directors of the Clearfield County Housing Authority.
- approved the bills as presented by the Controller’s Office.
During the county’s regular salary board meeting, members:
- approved a request from the District Attorney William A. Shaw Jr. to create a position of temporary, part-time assistant district attorney and to set the salary at $993.60 bi-weekly without benefits and retroactive to Sept. 10. The position will also collapse upon the filling of the vacant, full-time ADA position.
- approved a request from the commissioners to set the salary of the vacant deputy prothonotary/clerk of courts at $25,000 annually, effective Oct. 9.
- approved the request of the commissioners to set the salary of the casework supervisor/Children & Youth Services position – recently filled by Kelsey Vitullo – at $30,000 annually, effective Sept. 10.