By Dawn Hensil
Harrison County Prosecutor Rachel Romano said last week that $5,000 had been contributed toward the development of a teen court in the county. It’s unclear as of now though whether the program will come to fruition, according to Romano.
“There’s nothing saying it will and there’s nothing saying it won’t,” she said, during a Harrison County mayors meeting, held Feb. 9 in Clarksburg City Council chambers.
Mayors from Nutter Fort, Stonewood, Anmoore, West Milford, Lost Creek, and a councilman from Salem attended the meeting.
One of the mayors asked about possibly starting a Teen Court in Harrison County.
“Teen court is an alternative, if you will, to being in our court system,” Romano said.
She said such a program, were it to begin, would be for low level “status offenders.”
If a program began, low-level offenders would have the opportunity to decide if they would like to go through the traditional juvenile court system or use teen court as an alternative. The court would be run by other teens, meaning that they would act as judges, attorneys, and jurors. The teens would be the ones to hear each case and decide the punishment.
It would differ from Teen Drug Court which already exists within the county.
Romano had come to the meeting to discuss cities within the county making use of alternative sentencing. Magistrates may require individuals who commit nonviolent misdemeanors to perform community service hours.
Probation officers with the Day Report Center can then connect cities with those individuals to work on projects that need done within the community.
“They’re basically willing to do anything that you all as cities come to them and say that you need,” Romano said.
Romano said a dedicated community outreach supervisor could assist the cities.
She said the alternative sentencing program is seeing good results.
“We’re actually seeing good turnarounds and people doing what they’re supposed to,” she said.
Some people assigned to community service were even “getting something personal out of it,” according to Romano.
“They were coming back and helping their fellow guys, and staying past when they’re supposed to, but that’s also a testament to Gary Hamrick (director of Harrison County Community Corrections) and his team,” she said.
Romano urged cities that would be interested in using the program to contact Gary Hamrick, director of Harrison County Community Corrections.
Each representative of the cities also shared news from their communities. Most spoke about actions being taken to start a recycling program to go along with regular garbage pickups and how they will begin working on their budgets.
Another topic that was discussed by most of the representatives of the cities was upgrades to the water and sewage lines within their cities. Cities like Anmoore and Salem are planning to raise monthly usage rates of the utility to cover costs of the installation of new water lines. A representative from Salem spoke about how the citizens are unhappy with the large increase in the water and sewage rate. Some residents live on tight budgets and would feel a crunch in their monthly budgets to pay the additional cost.
A second hearing over the price increase will be held later this month.
The next meeting will be held on March 9 at 6 p.m. They plan to have a representative from the Region VI Planning and Development Council present to speak. They will discuss ways to help municipalities plan and develop projects. The meeting will be once again held in the Clarksburg City Council chambers.