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Child abuse awareness discussed at meeting

Jacksonville Daily Progress - 3/13/2018

March 13--The Cherokee County Commissioners' Court met Monday morning and heard from the Cherokee County Child and Family Service Board. This board was developed to try and help children in the county who are at risk of neglect or abuse. As April is Child Abuse Awareness Month, they came to the commissioners' court to discuss some personnel updates and plans for future events.

"We just mainly wanted to, again, thank you for your support." said board member Shirley Reese.

Reese and the vice president of the board, Barbara Hugghins, informed the court of some reorganization of the board. Bill Avera, chief of the Jacksonville ISD police, will be temporarily sitting as chairman of the board, as previous chairperson Nancy Washburn has stepped down to the role of treasurer.

"About six or eight months ago Nancy Washburn in Jacksonville agreed to be the board chair, but our treasurer Carolyn Walker, we've had for a long time, has had multiple health issues ... Nancy, being from Austin Bank, was sort of a natural shoe-in to move into the treasurer's spot," Reese said.

Avera, who was unable to attend the meeting personally, will act as chairman of the board through the summer until a replacement is found.

The court was also made aware of some areas where the board is seeing a need for more assistance.

According to Reese, several homes where children could stay after being taken out of bad homes had been closed down due to needed renovations. This has had the negative effect of limiting already limited space even farther. Social Service workers are obligated to babysit these kids and let them stay in their own offices, sometimes for several days, until a home can be found. The board has collected bedding supplies, and have also made deals with several local restaurants to feed these kids and workers, but more aid is always needed.

Tonya Fuller, faith-based specialist for CPS, also came to the meeting to discuss future plans for April. On April 9 there will be a candlelight vigil to recognize Child Abuse Awareness Month. The event will be held at the county courthouse, and those wishing to attend are invited to wear blue in honor of child victims of abuse or neglect. There are also plans to place pinwheels and pairs of childrens' shoes at the courthouse and schools to demonstrate the number of children in the county who have been victims of abuse.

According to the sheriff's department's monthly report, CPS intakes were the second highest recorded incident for the month of February. There were 14 CPS intakes last month, along with 16 counts of theft and 12 cases of assault. The sheriff's office also received 2,382 calls in February. One-hundred and sixty prisoners were taken in, and 157 were released.

The last item covered in the meeting, aside from approving the consent agenda, was the appointment of Julianna Peacock as a director to the Neches and Trinity Valleys Groundwater Conservation District Board. Judge Chris Davis said this is a four-year term, beginning January of 2018.

"I think we're very lucky to have a lady of this calibre interested in taking this job," he said.

None of the commissioners had any objections to the appointment and adopted it unanimously.


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