Williams County JFS To Use Fairgrounds House For Visitations, Foster Care Drop Offs

The Williams County Department of Jobs and Family Services will be getting a home to help with its services to the community.

The Williams County Board of Commissioners agreed to give the house at the fairgrounds to the agency and to help the Sheriff’s Department find a new post in the northern part of the county. The commissioners met with JFS Director Fred Lord to discuss the matter.

Lord had asked the commissioners about finding a place for visitations and the idea to use the fairgrounds site was explored by commissioner-elect Terry Rummel. He reported back to the commissioners at the Dec. 15 meeting.

The house is suitable for the agency’s purposes if available, Lord said.

Rummel agreed and said Lord may be downplaying it a bit in his response. The house is practically in move-in condition with some painting and new carpeting as the only immediate concerns, he said.

“It looks perfectly suitable to me,” Rummel said. “It’s a little small.”

The agency plans to put a stove in the kitchen to teach young people to cook and to take care of themselves, Rummel said.

“I think it’s a phenomenal opportunity for our JFS to engage with our community for the citizens who need that kind of service,” Rummel said.

The house will require a ramp for handicap accessibility, but Board President Brian Davis was confident the county could qualify for an ADA grant.

The house has a relatively modern bathroom which Rummel thought could be used to teach young mothers how to give their babies a bath.

Lord said the agency removes many babies from meth homes and the tub could be used to clean the chemicals off the infants.

“I did not want to hear that,” Rummel said.

Davis inquired if the house could handle both JFS and the sheriff, but the consensus was the building was too small and the uses incompatible. The two agencies have a strained relationship now and putting them under the same roof would not be fair to the JFS workers, Rummel said.

So now the challenge will be to inform the sheriff the lease for the house will be allowed to expire, but the county will assist Steve Towns is finding a new post in the north to north central part of the county.

“The house isn’t a sheriff’s office it’s a house,” Rummel said. “In general it’s not an office environment.”

The house would serve as an excellent way station for children removed from their homes and to wait for the foster parents, Lord said. The current practice is to use police stations or the JFS office, he said.

The house, used as a house, would be an ideal spot for exchanges and visitation. The house could be set up to put a TV in for the children who may have to wait several hours to be picked up, Rummel said.

Commissioner Al Word was excited about having JFS use the house. The agency is really out of options, but the sheriff has plenty of options to find a new post. Bridgewater Township and Holiday City have room, Rummel said.

The next steps will be for the commissioners to talk with the sheriff and to help him find a new spot. The house will need some work including repairing a water line that prevents the use of a toilet.

Davis thought it was important to make a commitment to Lord about the house.

The motion passed unanimously.

James Pruitt may be reached at publisher@thevillagereporter.com

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