Tuesday, August 17, 2010

County mulling graffiti cleanup crew

HOLLIDAYSBURG - Blair County Juvenile Drug Court officials are thinking about forming a graffiti cleanup crew they said would not only improve the community but also give young workers a sense that they are doing something worthwhile.

Nancy Williams, the director of Blair County's Juvenile Probation Office, said Monday that two probation officers who work with youngsters in the county's drug court may request a grant from Operation Our Town that would help purchase supplies for the cleanup.

In some cases, juveniles in the program have been responsible for the unsightly graffiti that has been placed on businesses, homes, bridges and other types of facilities throughout Altoona.

The graffiti problem became so bad earlier this year that city police assigned a detective to pursue charges against those who were doing it. Some of the juveniles responsible for graffiti were part of an Operation Our Town community cleanup in May.

"The drug court kids liked that. ... They liked the idea of helping," said Blair County Judge Elizabeth Doyle, who presides over juvenile drug court.

The discussion of the possible grant request came as Williams and Doyle explained how a $15,000 Operation Our Town grant awarded two weeks ago will be used by the court.

The money is designated for transportation expenses, incentives that serve as rewards for their success in the drug court program, and for drug-testing supplies.

The grant request was for $24,000, but because $15,000 was awarded, the drug court overseers must decide how much will go to each activity, Williams said.

There are nine participants in juvenile drug court, said Doyle, and most come from poor homes.

The transportation money would be used for bus passes, taxis or other traveling costs to make sure the kids can get to court, counseling and their jobs.

Paying for transportation was a common hurdle that had to be overcome during the court's first year, according to the court's grant application.

Incentives include items like "Sheetz cards" that serve as rewards for the teens who are succeeding in the program. Recognition of success is also important, Doyle said.

Taken from: Altoonamirror

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