Photo by George Lauby
Margene Phares, at left, and Stephanie Miller.
Court appointed special advocates (CASA) asked the Lincoln County commissioners Monday for a donation so their program can continue to grow.
The county board took no action on the request.
In the past, the board has not contributed to such programs, citing budget and tax concerns.
Executive Director Stephanie Miller said volunteers in the CASA program advocate for state wards – children who are removed from homes because of neglect or abuse.
A volunteer interviews the child, parents, foster parents and others involved, then writes a report for the presiding judge, giving recommendations.
The program costs about $43,000 a year to operate – which pays the salary and office costs of an executive director. Until this year, most of the money came from grants.
CASA reduces other costs to the county, such as out-of-home care, court appearances, guardian-ad-litem expenses, repeated foster care placements and extra programs in schools, organizers said.
The program started a year ago in Lincoln County. As of April, 14 advocates have logged 1,000 hours and helped 29 children, Miller said.
But, the need is greater. As of the end of January, there were 89 kids in “out-of-home” placements in Lincoln County, Miller said.
This year, Miller and the board of directors want to train more volunteer advocates and also hire an assistant executive director, but they have a budget shortfall. Nearly half the money budgeted in 2013 has not been found.
They also want to connect better with school officials to help children get more effective education. The directors recently hosted a 5-kilometer run to raise money and will continue to have more fundraisers, Miller and board member Margene Phares told the commissioners.
Chairman Joe Hewgley thanked Miller and Phares for the “well-prepared, succinct presentation.”
Commissioner Duane Deterding told them he understands how important the program is.
In other action, the board agreed to change the name of the convention and visitor’s bureau to the North Platte/Lincoln County Visitor’s Bureau.
Hewgley said the change sounded fine, but the addition of “North Platte” to the name a few years ago caused some heartburn on the county board, since Lincoln County is the authorizing agent.
CVB director Lisa Burke said that change years ago made the location more recognizable to out-of-state and out-of-town residents. Hewgley agreed, but cautioned against someday dropping the words “Lincoln County.”
The board approved the name change 3-0.
Tour of attractions
Also, Burke invited the commissioners to take an all-day tour of attractions around the county for motel clerks and restaurant workers, so those "front line" employees can recommend things for visitors to see and do.
Deputy County Attorney Joe Wright cautioned the commissioners about having an informal meeting in violation of the state’s open meeting laws if they all take the tour.
Also, the board sent two temporary liquor license requests to the state liquor commission with a favorable comment. Joe Sculley of Sculley’s Shooters asked for the permits to serve liquor at two weddings on May 18, one at the fairgrounds and one at the Creekside Event Center.
Sculley said people old enough to drink will wear wrist bands and no would be allowed to take alcohol out the doors at the events.
He also said that Shooter's began offering rides to customers a couple weeks ago and took more than 50 people home one night.
Sheriff Jerome Kramer told the commissioners that Sculley "runs a good show. I appreciate what they do."
Also, the board
• Approved an agreement with the Nebraska Department of Roads about inspecting bridges for critical fractures, and another agreement to update the terms of a funding agreement for federal transportation funds.