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National County Government Month 2016

Safe & Secure Counties

National County Government Month (NCGM), held each April, is an annual celebration of county government. Since 1991, the National Association of Counties has encouraged counties to actively promote the services and programs they offer. This year's NCGM theme is Safe and Secure Counties.

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Child Abuse Prevention Month

Michelle Brant, Westmoreland County Children’s Bureau; Anita Leonard, Westmoreland County Children’s Bureau Advisory Board member
Since 1983, April has been proclaimed “Child Abuse Prevention Month.”  by United States Presidents Over 30 years since the first proclamation by President Ronald Reagan, the need for individuals and communities to renew their commitments to prevent child abuse and to acknowledge the importance of families and communities working together persists.
The staff of the Westmoreland County Children’s Bureau work to protect children from abuse and neglect, preserve families whenever possible, and ensure that every child under our care and supervision has a safe, stable and permanent home in which to grow. During April and all year long, we remind everyone that YOU can make a difference in a child’s life. 10 Ways You Can Prevent Child Abuse

If you suspect that a child is a victim of abuse or neglect, we encourage you to report it. Reports may be made anonymously, but by giving your name you add credibility to the report. In Westmoreland County call 724-830-3301, during the hours of 8:30 A.M. – 6:00 P.M. , Monday through Friday. During the hours the agency is closed, emergency referrals may be made to 911. You can also call the Childline hot line at 1-800-932-0313.

Scales of Justice

Court News

MDJ Alternative Adjudication by Magisterial District Justice Helen Kistler
A new diversionary program is being implemented in the Magisterial District Courts to provide early intervention for defendants exhibiting some signs of drug addiction.  The program bears some similarity to the Westmoreland County Court of Common Pleas Drug Court, with the hope that if individuals with a drug addiction can be identified at the earliest possible time and encouraged to seek treatment, more serious crimes can be prevented.
Any summary offense is eligible for the program at the discretion of the Magisterial District Judge, except for those related to underage drinking.  Additionally, misdemeanors of simple possession, possession of drug paraphernalia, retail theft and defiant trespass are eligible for the program. 

The program requires a defendant to commit to a treatment program with drug and alcohol testing for a period of no less than 6 months for which the defendant is financially responsible.  There are several providers who have already committed to the program and have agreed to assist those without insurance to obtain financial aid.  During the period of treatment, the defendant will meet on a periodic basis with the District Judge to monitor progress and cannot have more arrests.  At the end of the period, provided that the defendant has successfully completed treatment, summary offenses will be dismissed.  Misdemeanors will either be dismissed or reduced to summaries. 

Westmoreland County Drug Treatment Court

National Drug Court Month is May 2016

by Eric Leydig, Drug Treatment Court Coordinator
The Westmoreland County Drug Treatment Court Program, led by the Honorable Meagan Bilik-DeFazio and the Honorable Christopher A. Feliciani, reached a six month operational milestone on March 28, 2016.  The Drug Treatment Court Program was developed to assist high risk/high need individuals, who are currently involved in the criminal justice system, achieve and maintain recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.  The Drug Treatment Court Team, which is comprised of eleven professionals with disciplines in criminal justice and drug and alcohol treatment, screen each potential participant for placement into the program.  Participants who are accepted into the program are intensely supervised by the Westmoreland County Adult Probation Office and are required to attend Drug Treatment Court Sessions bi-weekly.  The Drug Treatment Court Program utilizes evidenced based practices such as intensive judicial supervision, frequent substance abuse testing, treatment and incentives within a controlled environment to help participants break the cycle of addiction and crime.
Over the past 6 months, the Drug Treatment Court Program had received 84 referrals and has gained 24 active participants.  The program currently has a maximum capacity of 50 participants.  The program has shown to be effective in reducing recidivism and victimization.  This has been proven by a current zero percent recidivism rate for the participants active in the program.  In addition, no participants have been unsuccessfully terminated from the program.

Successful completion for some participants will result in felony charges being reduced to misdemeanor convictions and misdemeanor charges dismissed.  Other participants will benefit by forgoing any period of incarceration for successfully completing the program. 
For more information regarding the Westmoreland County Drug Treatment Court, please visit our website or call 724-830-3700 ext. 5. 

Westmoreland County Lifesharing

Behavior Health/Developmental Services - What is Life Sharing?

Jamie Walker, Program Specialist for Westmoreland County, says, “Lifesharing is more than providing the basics such as food and shelter. It is a dually rewarding life experience, that builds relationships, confidence, and responsibility.” 

As an alternative residential option to a Community Living Arrangement (CLA) or a Group Home, Lifesharing enables individuals with disabilities the opportunity to reside with an adult or family in their home as a fully participating member of that family. Beyond a living arrangement, Lifesharing is a close personal relationship, but is NOT a replacement for one’s biological family. Companions or families are trained and authorized to provide services geared to individual needs.

George Life Sharing Program

Debbie, a Program Specialist with Passavant Memorial Homes, shares the story of an individual in the Lifesharing program, “George”:  “Since moving into Lifesharing, George has had the opportunity to become a part of a loving family that has become part of his extended biological family. Although wheelchair-bound, George has had the chance to experience many “firsts”—a visit to the Atlantic Ocean, and Steelers training camp, among many other community integration activities.  His daily life has been so enriched by this program.  If you ever have the chance to meet George, his smile will tell you everything!”

Learn more about Lifesharing on the web, or you're invited to a Lifesharing Family Picnic on May 7, 2016, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Twin Lakes Park, Pavilion 5. Attendees will enjoy food, fun, prizes, and learn valuable “Tools to Balance your Life and Nourish your Soul”. Training hours will be available.  Registration at 724-830-3617 or lischik@westmoreland.swix.com is required by April 24th.

Westmoreland Parks and Recreation

Show Off Your Fishing Skills at Westmoreland County parks' Free Fishing Derbies!

Bring your friends and family for FREE fishing derbies throughout the summer at your Westmoreland County Parks! Trophies and prizes are awarded to both adults and youth, and a door prize drawing will be held for all registered participants. Visit the Fishing Derby event page for more information
Sunday, April 24 – Mammoth Park
Sunday, May 22 – Northmoreland Park
Sunday, June 19 (Father’s Day) – Twin Lakes Park

Westmoreland County Senior Games

Bring a Friend for Fun and Fitness at the Westmoreland County Senior Games May 3-13!

The 33rd Annual Westmoreland County Senior Games kicks off Tuesday, May 3 and concludes Friday, May 13. Participants age 50 and above can register for over 30 high-impact and low-impact events, such as bocce, bicycling, bowling, darts, golf, horseshoes, rowing, swimming, and more! Medals will be awarded to the top 3 finishers in each age category for each event. Registration fee is only $10 and includes lunch and an official t-shirt. Visit our website for a schedule of events and a registration brochure.

Westmoreland Development Council

Westmoreland County Industrial Development Corporation

The Westmoreland County Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) has had a busy start to the year. The former Monsour Medical Center Demolition, now being called the Jeannette Rt. 30 Redevelopment Project, is nearing completion of Phase I. Phase I included the demolition and environmental remediation of the property and Phase II, starting immediately upon completion of Phase I, will entail site preparation, utility extensions, and storm water improvements. This second and final phase is expected to be finished sometime in the fourth quarter of 2016 when a request for proposals from developers will follow as the marketing for the site is ongoing.

The IDC is also developing a 150 acre rail park located in Sewickley Township. The new industrial park will be the county’s 18th park and is expected to be pad-ready in the 4th quarter of 2017. The project is being done in partnership with Westinghouse and will provide access to the Southwest Pennsylvania Railroad, a short-line railroad with connections to the three major first-class railroads in the region.

Planning Department

The Planning Department is assisting in the Laurel Valley Transportation Improvement Project feasibility study. This study has commenced with a public hearing taking place last month in Pleasant Unity. The LVTIP is designed to enhance safety throughout the corridor and provides routing/trucking options to the Latrobe area and Arnold Palmer Regional Airport. Other benefits to the project include reducing traffic congestion at New Stanton turnpike interchange and along Route 30.

Economic Growth Connection

The Economic Growth Connection has many ongoing projects. The West Penn Power Sustainable Energy Fund, a $25 million fund for windmills in the region has fueled over 100 projects and attracted around $100 million in total investment. Other projects include the building of single family homes at the former Ligonier Armory site and the Westmoreland County Forum for Workforce Development. The Forum is a newly formed group of business-education representatives whose mission is to connect business and education through coordinated opportunities which will improve workforce quality and economic development. Recently, Rob Wonderling, President & CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce gave a presentation at The Forum’s most recent meeting praising the collaborative commitment to workforce development and integration for Westmoreland County.

Redevelopment Authority of Westmoreland County
Westmoreland County Land Bank

The Redevelopment Authority of the County of Westmoreland and the Westmoreland County Land Bank are hosting a statewide Land Bank Summit May 11th-12th in Latrobe, PA. The summit will include state and national experts making presentations on the “whys” and “hows” of blight remediation along with planning tips on forming and operating a land bank. This summit is being sponsored by the PA Department of Community and Economic Development and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh. To learn more and/or register, please click here

Election Day

Election Bureau

The Pennsylvania General Primary will be held Tuesday, April 26, 2016.  Polls will be open from 7:00 am - 8:00 pm. 

Please note the deadline to apply for an absentee ballot is April 19.  For more information on this, or to view sample ballots, sign-up for email/text notifications of county election results, visit the Election Bureau website.

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