Hancock agencies seek budget help

NEW CUMBERLAND – Hancock County social service agencies that serve children, the poor and the elderly are looking to county commissioners to help them with their annual budgets.

Commissioners entertain such requests every year, even as they prepare the county’s budget for the coming fiscal year. Among the agencies looking to the county for help are:

Comfort House Child Advocacy Center in Weirton;

Community Bread Basket in Weirton;

Greater Weirton Senior Center; and

Swaney Memorial Library in New Cumberland.

“Without a doubt, Comfort House would be no more than a good idea without your financial support,” Thomas Hagg, Comfort House board chairman, wrote in a recent letter to commissioners.

Comfort House, which opened in 2006, serves abused and neglected children by providing forensic interviews, victim’s advocacy, medical examinations, mental health therapy and other legal services. In 2012, Comfort House served 98 children and played a pivotal role in six felony sexual abuse cases, Hagg said.

The agency has used county financial support to hire a director, purchase office space and equipment, and obtain additional funding. Comfort House is asking commissioners for $25,000 for the 2013-2014 fiscal year.

Community Bread Basket, incorporated in 2008, serves people in need with food distributions and other services. In 2012, the agency served 1,600 people in Hancock County, Treasurer George Ash said in a letter to commissioners.

In addition to relying on local churches, businesses and individuals for financial support, Community Bread Basket is asking commissioners for $10,000 for the coming fiscal year.

Greater Weirton Senior Center, unlike West Virginia’s county senior centers, does not receive direct funding from the state, board Chairman James Connolly said in a letter to commissioners.

Connolly described the agency as a “one-of-a-kind, hybrid senior center which … is forced to rely on its own fundraising and discretionary funding.” The senior center, which serves about 270 people a week, has asked commissioners for $15,000 for the coming fiscal year.

In 2012, commissioners agreed to help the center pay off its mortgage by contributing $14,549. The assistance was contingent on Weirton City Council contributing the same amount.

Swaney Memorial Library is asking commissioners for $7,000 to cover the cost of replacing the basement flooring. The library was able to make improvements last year with $5,000 from commissioners, Director Anna Raines said.

Commissioners have placed all four funding requests on the county’s list for special projects.

Commissioners also are in the process of applying for state grants to fund several local programs in the 2013-2014 fiscal year. They include the Prevention Resource Officer program, the Hancock-Brooke-Weirton Drug Task Force, the Victim Assistance Program and the Juvenile Mediation Program.

The PRO program puts two Hancock County sheriff’s deputies in Oak Glen Middle School and High School and two police officers in Weir Middle School and High School.