Domestic violence tops Commissioners Court
Friday, 19 October 2012 by Sonya Campbell
The topic of prevention topped the Bell County Commissioners Court meeting agenda Monday, as county leaders approved two measures – one proclaiming October as National Fire Prevention Month, the other declaring it Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention Month.
General Federation of Women's Clubs representative Aliceanne Wallace spoke about family violence.
She described the high rate of domestic violence and child abuse, locally, as a black mark on Bell County.
"This is a serious problem in our county," she said. "We seem to be leading the pack. This is what concerns me."
But Wallace also praised the county for taking steps to curb the problem and said prevention is critical to stopping the cycle of abuse.
"That's the toughest nut to crack. It's not easy," she said. "It can be done."
Wallace noted, "Bell County does support prevention."
She also credited AWARE Central Texas with focusing on preventative measures.
After the meeting, AWARE Central Texas Executive Director Sue Ellen Jackson told the Journal that children's well-being should always be a priority and more attention should be given to their plight.
"We throw kids under the bus in the name of saving face," she said, reiterating, "All children who grow up in a violent home are abused children."
Jackson said children who grow up in "toxic homes" believe such an environment is the norm.
"It perpetuates itself," she said.
She also said some parents believe their home isn't dysfunctional because they "don't hit."
"You are mistaken," Wallace said, noting verbal abuse can also do lasting harm.
Both Wallace and Jackson said more information on the topic of domestic violence will be shared during the upcoming Central Texas Family Violence Task Force's 2012 Fall Conference.
The event will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday at First Baptist Church, 3310 Southwest W.S. Young Drive in Killeen.
Registration begins at 7:45 a.m.
County leaders also heard from Bell County Fire Marshal Steven Casey on the topic of Fire Prevention Month.
Casey told the court area fire departments would be participating in a smoke detector giveaway as part of the annual fire prevention campaign.
The event, sponsored by the Bell County Fire Chiefs Association, offers free smoke detectors to elderly and low-income residents.
Casey said proof the program works is evidenced by a decrease in the number of casualties in recent years.
"One year we had six people pass away due to smoke inhalation," the fire marshal said.
In recent years, that number has dropped to "little or none," he said.
Walmart, Lowe's, Home Depot and McCoy's Building Supply were credited with assisting in the effort by providing smoke detectors.
On another agenda item, the Commissioners Court approved a Memorandum of Understanding between the Texas Forest Service and Bell County.
The agreement paves the way for Bell County emergency responders to participate in the Lone Start State Incident Management Team operated by the Texas Forestry Service.
Their role will be "strictly command," Bell County Emergency Management Director Dennis Baker said.
This summer, 25 emergency responders from the region underwent training for the program and others are in the process.
Baker said the goal is to have enough team members in the region to support three, eight-hour shifts.
The team would respond to such incidents as the flood that devastated parts of Bell County when tropical storm Hermine rolled through the area in 2010 and the wildfire that scorched Bastrop County last year, he said.
Training is provided at no cost, Baker said.
In other business, the court:
- Took no action on the burn ban, which has been lifted.
- Approved the Texas County & District Retirement System plan for provisions for Plan Year 2013 and the adoption of the employer contribution rate of 12.14 percent. It was noted there was no change to the plan.