Community Service advisory board holds meeting
The advisory board to the Heart of America Community Service Program met Jan. 15 for a semi-annual meeting at the Pierce County Courthouse.
In attendance were board members and others, including program director Yvonne Hagen, Northeast District Judge John C. McClintock Jr., McHenry County State’s Attorney Cassey Breyer, McHenry County Sheriff Marvin Sola, McHenry County commissioner David Medalen, Bottineau County Sheriff Steve Watson, Pierce County Sheriff Josh Siegler, Pierce County commission chairman Duane Johnston and commissioner Dave Migler.
The group discussed the joint powers agreement signed by the three counties last year. Each county will contribute $10,000 to the program. Johnston said he plans to be in Bismarck in February and will hear more about if the governor will increase monies for alternatives to incarceration.
Hagen shared success stories from the program in a similar report that she gave to the Pierce County commissioners in December. She also shared frustration with her current salary and benefits. Hagen stated she wants state’s attorneys and clerks of court from the three counties on the advisory board because those people work closely with her and know what her position requires.
Medalen took issue with an editorial in the Tribune in May of 2014, which questioned the commitment of the three counties’ commissions.
“We’ve never been against this program,” Medalen said. “We’ve always been for it.”
Said Migler: “We didn’t know if the program merited full-time, so we went in cautiously, but said it could go full-time at some point.”
McClintock asked Hagen if she plans to continue with the job. Hagen stated she would like to, but would weigh options.
Sola voiced his support for the program: “My opinion is that, and I’m not speaking for the commissioners or anyone else, but my recommendation is to come up with a little extra money for this. In the long run, if we sat down and looked at it, it would be cheaper to do community service than spend $65 a day on jail.”
Watson also voiced support and said he has seen positive changes in his county as a result of the program.
The commissioners explained that changes to salary and program funding will not be immediate as the 2015 budget is set.
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