Monroe County Board members and other local officials were shocked to learn of the loss of expected federal funds that support the Violence Prevention Center of Southwestern Illinois office in the courthouse in Waterloo.
VPC officials further detailed the issue for county commissioners and city officials in Columbia and Waterloo on Monday.
“The agency has lost the VAWA Stop (Violence Against Women Act) grant for both Monroe and Randolph County, so that’s my position and the Randolph County position,” Liz Mudd explained to the Waterloo City Council on Monday night as she made the rounds to ask for support.
While these funds are federal monies, the state decides which organizations receive them.
“Because the state is not funding a lot of their own grants, a lot of agencies have had to close. They’ve severely cut back on their staff, so since those agencies can’t get the state funding, there’s a lot more that have gone after federal funding. And there was less federal funding in this year than in years past.
“You have a lot of people fighting over a smaller pot of money,” Mudd said.
Judge Dennis Doyle took time from his judicial duties to address the county board about the importance of continuing the work of the VPC.
“If we don’t spend the money on this service, we will have to spend more somewhere else,” Doyle said.
The VPC works with local police departments, state’s attorney’s office and circuit clerk’s office at the Monroe County Courthouse, in addition to providing physical and emotional support for domestic violence victims.
“Without that funding, we’d be able to do eight to 10 hours a month in the county for domestic services, and there’s no way that’s even feasible or reasonable to think that we could do all the services that I do in that amount of time,” Mudd said
Waterloo resident Kay Clements, a VPC board member, sees a bleak future for domestic violence victims if these cuts stand.
“You’re sending all these victims back into the dark ages again, where they won’t have anybody to go to for help,” she said. “They’ll have to be scared and afraid and thinking no one cares.”
Clements, whose daughter was killed in a domestic violence incident in 1992, said she has seen many positive advances in the way domestic violence victims and perpetrators are treated, and she fears losing this ground if the money isn’t restored.
The VPC is appealing the decision, Mudd said. But they won’t have a decision for a while.
In the meantime, they are asking local governments to fill the gap left by the state of Illinois.
Currently, the center is evaluating the costs versus benefits of using full-time staff or 25-hour-per-week staff.
“If the cities all come together and they decide they want to go full-time or part-time, the county has agreed (to fund one-third of) whichever one,” Mudd said.
But Waterloo and Columbia must each also commit to funding the remaining two-thirds.
The issue will be revisited at subsequent meetings once the immediate future of VPC in Monroe and Randolph counties comes into focus.
For now, the Monroe County VPC office can be reached by calling 939-8114.
In a bit of good news for VPC, the Realtor Association of Southwestern Illinois presented a $2,000 check to the center from proceeds of its Toni Hannon Golf Classic on June 10 in Shiloh.
Hannon was a real estate agent who was fatally shot by her ex-husband in Columbia last August before he turned the gun on himself.
In other county board action:
• M. Edith Koch of O’Fallon was named director of the Monroe County Economic Development Corporation. She will assume and expand on duties previously performed by the late Nora Feuquay, who headed up the county economic development council.
Koch has an extensive background in economic development, having brought more than $4 billion and 7,000 jobs to southwestern Illinois throughout her economic development career. She holds a bachelors degree in education from Eastern Illinois University and a masters degree in speech communication from SIUE.
• Monroe County Sheriff Neal Rohlfing spoke about the emerging controversy involving mobile political displays.
The commissioners said they hoped they two major party chairpersons could meet and agree on policies in the interim. Read more on this matter on page 6A.
• County Engineer Aaron Metzger said the proposed intersection realignment at Kaskaskia and Old Red Bud roads is on hold. The commissioners and Metzger also discussed an existing safety issue at Route 3 and EE Road at the YMCA.
• County Treasurer Kevin Koenigstein said he hopes to mail property tax bills in late August, but this depends in part on delays caused by appeals or the state of Illinois.
• Oak Hill Director Kim Keckritz reported financial and census figures remain very good at the facility.
“They’re as good as we have ever had,” said Monroe County Board Chairman Terry Liefer.
• Ambulance Service Director Carla Heise noted service is steadily increasing. She attributes Monroe County’s growing and aging population as part of the reason. She said the service is exploring the possibility of staging an ambulance away from the ambulance garage in high volume areas and at busy times as a way to reduce response times.
• The Monroe Board of County Commissioners will meet next in regular session in the Monroe County Courthouse, Tuesday, July 5, following observance of the July 4 holiday on the regular meeting day.
Meetings are public and agenda information is posted before the meeting at www.monroecountyil.org.