Advocate to join prosecutor’s office

ESCANABA — The Delta County Board of Commissioners approved an amendment that will increase the amount of grant funding given to the county through the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) during its meeting Tuesday. The funding increase will support the creation of a new position at the prosecutor’s office.

During the meeting, Delta County Administrator Philip Strom thanked employees of the prosecutor’s office for their role in making the increase possible.

“The prosecutor’s office staff is good at a whole bunch of things — one thing they’re really good at is writing grants and finding money to support community services,” he said.

A new, full-time child and youth victim advocate position will be established at the prosecutor’s office as a result of the grant increase. The person who fills the new position will provide support to parents, guardians, children and youths impacted by or who become the victims of drug-related crimes, domestic violence and/or sexual assault.

“We’ve done victim-specific advocacy positions in the past. This is one that is even more specific to dealing with children victims,” Strom said of the new position.

Chief Assistant Prosecutor Lauren Wickman offered additional information on how the child and youth victim advocate will support children.

“That would be the primary focus of this particular advocate, is to … be by their side through the entirety of the process, make sure that they’re heard, understood and know what’s going on for their case,” she said.

The grant increase will fully fund the child and youth victim advocate position for a year. There is a possibility the funding will continue beyond this point.

In addition to creating a new position, the grant increase will allow the pay rate for Delta County’s VOCA coordinator to be increased from $20 to $22 per hour. Strom said it is important for the county to aggressively pursue grant opportunities such as this one.

“If we miss some grant opportunities to keep our pay rates competitive, we’re going to lose the ability to leverage and hire qualified applicants to other, similar grant opportunities in different communities,” he said.

In other business, the board:

– approved the creation, posting and filling of two new road patrol officer positions, as made possible by a recently-approved law enforcement millage request for up to 1.3 mills — $1.30 per each $1,000 of taxable value — from 2020 to 2029.

The county is aiming to begin the process of creating and filling two additional road patrol officer positions next spring or summer.

– approved a contract agreement with the county’s medical investigators as proposed. Under the agreement, the medical investigators will receive a monthly on-call payment of $140 and $55 per hour for field work investigating deaths in the county.

– okayed an agreement between the corrections department and the corrections department union to buy out vacation time from union employees.

– was updated on a property sale at the Delta County Airport as part of Strom’s administrator report. According to Strom, the sale of five acres of airport property to an individual buyer — who was not named in the report — was closed on May 29. The buyer intends to develop the property along with other interested developers.

– received an update on MSU Extension. Board members were introduced to new Research Station Director Jesse Randall and heard a presentation on the extension’s programs and accomplishments from District Director Paul Putnam.