School superintendent discusses pros of prevention officer with commission
Pocahontas County School superintendent C.C. Lester visited the county commission last Tuesday to discuss implementing a PRO (Prevention Resource Officer) at Pocahontas County High School. The PRO grant pays 75 percent of the costs for the officer; Lester approached the commission to assist with the rest.
When Lester was a principal in Nicholas County, he installed a PRO officer at the high school there.
ﾓMy PRO officer developed a wonderful, lasting relationship with the kids,ﾔ Lester said. There was an instance where a girlﾒs mother was delivering drugs and was killed in a car accident and she [the girl] called the PRO officer before she called anyone else.ﾔ
Lester added that the PRO is integrated into the school system as a member of the faculty. Although the officer will be an armed Sheriffﾒs deputy, he is not at the school just to enforce laws and make arrests. The purpose of the PRO is to become another positive influence in the studentsﾒ lives and to give them a mentor at the school.
ﾓItﾒs not that we need a policeman at the school to control the school, thatﾒs not what itﾒs about,ﾔ Lester said. ﾓItﾒs just a prevention resource officer. They visit classes and talk about drug and alcohol issues.ﾔ
Commissioner Martin Saffer voiced his concern about having an armed officer at the school and said he didnﾒt understand the difference between a PRO and a sheriffﾒs deputy who would be assigned to the high school.
Lester reiterated that the officer would be at the school first and foremost as a mentor and not as law enforcement.
Sheriff David Jonese added that he is supportive of the program and will assist Lester with the grant and hiring an officer.
Commission President David Fleming said he offers his support to the PRO program, but he wants to see the grant and know how much money the commission would have to pay before he could vote to offer monetary support.
Lester said he would work with Jonese and Pocahontas County Prevention Coalition VISTA Thomas Peterson to write the grant, which is due February 18.
Commission offers support to Pocahontas County Teen Court
Teen Court coordinator Peterson asked the county commission to support his efforts to apply for two grants that require a match from the community.
Peterson explained that he is applying for a Juvenile Accountability Block grant and an Enforcing Underage Drinking Laws grant which will fund the teen court program as well as anti-drug and alcohol programs offered by the prevention coalition.
Along with asking the commission for monetary support, Peterson said he has sent requests to other organizations in the county. He estimated that the county commission would be responsible for $1,200.
The commission approved to adopt the resolutions with provisions that the monetary obligation be removed until the amount is concrete.