The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

November 18, 2008

River Hills and Legal Aid offering help

Program creates partnership between health centers and Iowa Legal Aid

OTTUMWA — A low-income woman who’s a domestic-assault victim may harm her health through worrying about protection and legal fees.

An older man who lost his job due to an injury and company cutbacks may be too proud to apply for disability the first time, let alone the second or third time.

River Hills Community Health Center, 201 S. Market St., has gained more help in handling health and legal concerns of low-income Iowans in eight southern Iowa counties.

Rick Johnson is River Hills’ chief executive officer and on Monday he announced two attorneys have joined the center’s Health and Legal Project, an Iowa grant program that created a partnership between community health centers and Iowa Legal Aid.

The attorneys are Ed Conrad of Sigourney and Karen Kopitsky, who recently moved to Ottumwa.

In September Conrad closed his 20-year private practice in Keokuk County to be a staff attorney for Iowa Legal Aid’s Ottumwa office. In the majority of his prior case work, he has helped Keokuk County residents in criminal, juvenile, real estate and family law matters.

“I’m an attorney who likes to help people and that’s what I want to do full time,” Conrad said. “Low-income people may not owe as much money as I do, but every single penny is more important to them.”

Originally from southern Missouri, Kopitsky has moved to Ottumwa after graduating from the University of Iowa in May 2008. Kopitsky has already passed Missouri’s bar exam and is board-certified there. Soon she will complete Iowa requirements for practicing law.

Before that, Kopitsky was a language teacher and taught Spanish.

“I grew up in southern Missouri, which is similar to the Ottumwa area. I believe in being part of the community you live and work in,” she said.

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