The Ottumwa Courier


October 30, 2012

Services for crime victims will be decreased

OTTUMWA — Some programs to rescue victims of domestic violence will end. But we can still try to help them.

“The money is not going to be there,” said Donna Phillips, head of the Iowa Attorney General’s Crime Victim Assistance Division. “It’s hard. We know programs are going to close.”

The programs the AG supports now include places, like the Women’s Crisis Shelter in Wapello County; and people, like the advocates who respond to victims of sexual violence.

But state and federal cuts will chop about a quarter of the budget for such programs, a loss of nearly $2 million.

Victim Assistance has been trying to come up with a way to keep as much running as possible. The public meeting in Ottumwa Monday with Phillips and Janelle Melohn, Crime Victim Assistance director, was to gather input.

The “plan” being talked about at the state level is not set in stone, said Phillips, but if the public wants to see changes, they need to supply alternatives that fit within the framework of federal and state regulations under which Victim Services operates.

Phillips said they must, without a doubt, look at how services are delivered and change it because there are very few other ways to save $2 million.

Melohn said that because of past cuts, programs have been forced to “trim the fat” anywhere they could find it. Now there’s not a whole lot of excess where cuts can be made.

One shift could take place in an unexpected area: Reducing the number of crisis shelters available to victims of violence.

Melohn said research is increasingly showing that victims are better able to stay safe from violence if they have long-term housing. And the victim numbers tend to agree, said Phillips.

“Only 11 percent of the ... victims want [or use] shelter. But half our resources go to shelters,” Phillips said.

That’s probably not the most efficient allocation of resources, she said. But she did acknowledge how important shelter can be in some situations. A anti-violence professional attending the meeting described how important a shelter nearby was 17 years ago when she and her children faced neglect and homelessness.

Shelters would remain, the two state officials said, but not as many of them. There would be more focus on people, getting advocates out to the victims who need help. There would still be hotlines, too, for assistance in emergencies.

One area of strong resistance locally from “the public” — which primarily consisted of health professionals, elected officials and representatives of violence prevention groups — was the map in which Iowa would be divided into six regions.

The region with Wapello, Davis, Mahaska, Monroe and Appanoose counties is also in the same region as Polk County. The southern tier of rural Iowa has historically been overshadowed and out-muscled by more urban areas like Des Moines, said audience members.  

Phillips and Melohn said their office keeps a careful watch on distribution of resources, and encourages  fair and equitable access to services for victims.

But, they acknowledged, the political system can take its toll on the definition of fair.

Text Only
  • 0418 OTT Tree City U.S.A. logo Ottumwa awarded as Tree City U.S.A. again OTTUMWA — Having big, beautiful trees throughout a community can help spruce up a city and make it more attractive to visitors. Ottumwa has shown a dedication to making the community more green and inviting, and the efforts have been recognized by th

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0418 OTT OEDC director -T Guiding our growth

    OTTUMWA — An organization designed to help Ottumwa grow has found a new employee in Indiana. The Ottumwa Economic Development Corporation (OEDC) board has chosen Sharon Stroh as the group's new executive director. “We are confident she will hit the g

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0417 OTT Camp Wapello fence photo -T -M -L Good fence irritates good neighbor DRAKESVILLE — For 82 years, Camp Wapello’s iconic entryway has welcomed people to peacefully coexist with nature. Now there’s a 400-foot barbed wire fence down the middle of the road. In February, Davis County Supervisors approved vacating of portion

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • City Council approves sale of properties OTTUMWA — On Tuesday the Ottumwa City Council met for the last regularly scheduled meeting of April. Included in the agenda for the evening were several dispositions of city owned property. Structures and land located at 519 W. Fourth St., 723 E. Mar

    April 15, 2014

  • Where to play OTTUMWA — The Ottumwa Community School District wants to discuss moving to another athletic conference. Superintendent Davis Eidahl revealed that the district has been contacted by a smaller sports league, which has extended an invitation to join the

    April 15, 2014

  • 0415 Right side up monster truck pic Nice driver --- mean machine OTTUMWA --- Drivers sat at one end of their vehicles during the "pit party," meeting fans and signing autographs before the motorsport and monster truck exhibition at Bridge View Center this weekend. Monster truck driver Orville Hill let kids --- and

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0415 OTT Composting ethical pic Recycling in a garden OTTUMWA --- Parents will tell you: They hate to see kids waste food. A gardner named Scott Koepke feels the same way. “First, let’s get our food to people who are going to eat it,” he said. “It hurts me to see kids in the schools throw away an entire

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0412 OTT Pothole color photo -T -M [Duplicate] A bumper crop of potholes OTTUMWA — The nice weather has been putting the bad roads on display. Officials say good: It gives us a chance to fix them. “Every city is going through the same thing,” said Larry Seals, Ottumwa Public Works director. “It has been an unusual winter

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Home in a tent OTTUMWA -- As people live without shelter, they become desperate finding a place to sleep. The situation impacts more than just the community's homeless. "There is nowhere to put people who are homeless," said Mary Margaret Butler. "Nowhere." Ottumwa

    April 11, 2014

  • 0412 OTT Martha Speaks color photo -T -M Ottumwa children visited by cartoon star OTTUMWA — Iowa Public Television is celebrating its 45-year anniversary this year by helping communities like Ottumwa educate young children before they get into a school setting. One of the programs they are using to help reach out to children is by

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

AP National