Commissioners receive update from CASA, honor and recognize WWII veteran
[Tiffin, OH – Dec. 16, 2021] – The Seneca County Board of Commissioners heard from representatives from Court-Appointed Special Advocates of Seneca, Sandusky and Wyandot Counties Thursday morning about the unique challenges facing the organization.
CASA is a non-profit, volunteer guardian ad litem program which features trained advocates who represent the best interests of abused and neglected children in the court system.
Michelle Hess, who serves as Tri-County Assistant and Communications Coordinator for the organization, spoke with the board and provided some data.
She said the COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on the organization in the past two years as court case numbers involving children have increased, while the number of volunteers has shrunk.
In Seneca County in 2019, 25 volunteers handled 73 cases. In 2020 and 2021, the number of cases increased significantly to 89 and 115, respectively. This coupled with the number of volunteers falling to 32 and 27, means the group needs more help.
To make things worse, Hess said the organization has also lost much of its grant funding.
This year, Hess said cases increased by 19 percent, with volunteers decreasing by about 12 percent and grant funding decreasing by about 56 percent. The loss in grant funding includes about $61,000 less received through the Victims of Crime Act grant.
“It’s not going to stop us,” she said, reiterating the important service provided through the program advocating for children and amplifying their voices during difficult situations.
David Kent, a board member for CASA, asked the commissioners what they could do to help with the financial issues.
County Administrator Stacy Wilson said the county already plans to provide about $25,000 in additional funding in 2022 in response to a request from County Prosecutor Derek DeVine.
The commissioners said they’d keep in touch and be willing to listen to further requests. Board President Mike Kerschner also said he hopes the county can assist in spreading awareness and recruiting more volunteers for the program.
The organization holds several fundraisers, and also has seen the same troubling trends in volunteerism and increasing case numbers in Sandusky and Wyandot counties.
In other action, Commissioner Anthony Paradiso was proud to read a proclamation honor a World War II veteran from Green Springs.
Alice Marie Miller, who is set to turn 101 in January, served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. Miller served at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Bremerton, Washington, among other naval hospitals across the country. She also spent time aboard the naval ship, the USS Solace.
Miller served her country for more than four years. The commissioners signed and read the proclamation in her honor.
Paradiso thanked Miller for her service.
“Miller comes from an era when women were not often recognized for their contributions to the military,” he said. “We hope this proclamation serves as a clear and powerful reminder of our community’s great appreciation for Miller and for the military veterans and active-duty military members who have fought and continue to fight for our freedom. We as Seneca County citizens and as Americans are forever indebted to heroes like Alice Miller.”
You can view the proclamation here.
In other action, the board continued discussion on Seneca County EMS.
The commissioners agreed to donate an ambulance to Bascom Joint Ambulance District, an entity that has chosen to leave the countywide system as other stakeholders move forward in an effort to improve and expand on the current volunteer-based system. The ambulance has engine issues, but BJAD officials have requested the ambulance and a power cot lift/load system it received with a state grant. The commissioners were happy to donate the ambulance and lift/load system and vowed to do its best to help BJAD during this time of transition, all with the ultimate goal being to provide quick and professional care to all residents covered by Seneca County EMS.
BJAD leaders also asked the county for an extension to the end of the formal relationship with the county. The end date for the contract between the two is now May 1, 2022.
In November, the commissioners announced their disappointment that BJAD leadership chose to leave the county system to run its own independent service.
“We have laid out our vision for the future of ambulance service in the county, and it seems that the Bascom Joint Ambulance District has a different vision,” Kerschner said. “We’ve done everything we can to bring them aboard with the other districts, but we respect the decision of the Bascom Joint Ambulance District and wish them the best moving forward.”
The commissioners also agreed to move back the next Seneca County EMS stakeholder meeting to January 20th at 7 p.m. at the North Central Ohio Educational Service Center.
During new business, the board approved all resolutions and appropriations from the meeting agenda.