Dillon Tribune (Dillon, Mont.) 1989-current, February 16, 2005, Image 4

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D illon T ribune * Wednesday, February 16, 2005 A-4 THE WHITE HOUSE WASHINGTON February 2,2005 The Senior Class Lima High School 1 North Harrison Street Lima, Montana 597a 9 Dear Students: , , , about you from Congressman MCGraW , eheloing to make a difference in Your generosity and compassion ar thou&htful act, you have your community. ^ üuragC £ £ S » w o * ta d . ta p your t a s h t a * . - dreams. „ , , . • May God bless you. and . • ;« c^ndin« our best wishes, iviay Mrs. Bush joins me m f ndlJ\ • may God continue to bless America. Sincerely, Gcorg| J . Bush O ff the cuff O ur take on news - B y J ohn B arrows , E ditor & P ublisher A sad commentary... In the past few years the administration, and school board, at Beaverhead County High School has felt it necessary to follow national trends and, one after another, add ever more restrictive measures to the school's way of dealing with its students, A few years ago it installed one closed circuit camera after a vandalism incident, later it added a complete system. Last year it tried, and kept, a random dog search program on campus. Monday night the board unanimously approved an administration request to add, on a trial basis, a uni­ formed, armed officer during the noon hour, with the understanding that it would work toward getting grants, perhaps through Homeland Security funds, for a full-time officer. The school is following what is becoming a national trend, of policing the schools. They're not called police officers, although they are, but are tagged with the euphemism, Special Resource Officer. The goal, according to the local sheriff's office, is not really to have an armed guard on duty, buf rather to open lines of communications between law enforcement and students. In reality though, it is indeed doing just that, and following a trend that has included buzzwords and activities that would have been unthought of just a few years ago. ; What the real danger is, however, is not through the presence of the officer, who we are assured will be there for all the right reasons, but through the example that further restrictions on liberty, further curtailment of freedoms, even such a thing as an officer in the hall or in a special office, is becoming commonplace and accepted. The federal government, without a whimper, passed the Patriot Act in the wake of 9-11 fervor, and America is just now waking up to what it meant to trade, as the old quotation goes, a little liberty for a little safety... the end result is neither. We can applaud our school officials for their concern for student safety, but the means in achieving it means, on a national scale, that we are a little more ready to down play our freedoms for a false sense of security. And that is indeed, a sad commentary. I n the M ail T h e v i e w s o f o u r r e a d e r s White Hats ease veteran's lonliness To the Editor, This is the first Valentine's day my Dad didn't have Mom. After 52 years together he is now alone. I wanted to publicly thank the White Hat Coalition for the thoughtful Valentines they sent to veterans like my father. The hand written sentiment from Mr. Smith lifted his spirits on what has always been a special day for my parents. It is very spe­ cial what this organization does for veterans and soldiers in the war. My father and I and my family appreciate them very much. Sharon Nielson Deerlodge, MT More letters on page A-6 P oint C ounter -P oint Criticizes County Attorney McCann responds to charges Enough already! We just noticed the sneaky, hidden comment about the Victim Witness Advo­ cate, Amy Cooksey Donovan, that was tucked in at the end of the road closure article in the February 9 Dillon Tribune. It is just too much to ignore. We will say right up front: yes, we are Amy's parents; yes, we are extremely proud of this very special daughter God has blessed us with; yes, we are definitely prejudiced. Are we angry these un­ founded attacks continue? You bet. Should Bea­ verhead County be alarmed by what is going on in the courthouse? Absolutely. It affects everyone in the community. Mr. McCann, we do take offense with your office's negative attitude toward the Victim Wit­ ness Advocate and her valuable service to victims. Instead of sitting down and talking one on one with her, you have chosen to listen to rumors and gossip from one or two individuals. That is so sad. You went further with your statement that \Bea­ verhead County is no longer being served.\ That, Mr. McCann, is blatant misinformation that you have put out to the whole county. The Victim Wit­ ness Advocate is unable to serve the victims in Beaverhead County because she receives zero in­ formation and cooperation from you and law en­ forcement. Shame on you for implying she is un­ available when, in fact, you have her office num­ ber in Virginia City, her cell phone number, her home phone number, and even access to her fax and e-mail. Yet you never use any of them. Why should she sit idle in Beaverhead County when her program is used extensively by all enti­ ties in Madison County? Speaking of entities, you, the deputy county attorney, and the commission­ ers feel that the surcharges should go to the Womens' Resource Center here. Well, Mr. McCann, most of those surcharges already do. Amy sup­ ports the Womens' Resource Center with a sub­ stantial yearly amount out of those surcharges. Why weren't you, the deputy county attorney, and the commissioners aware of that? All you needed to do was ask. It is so hard to imagine - in a field where a person is dealing with life and death situations - that some people feel it is more important to act and waste valuable time on a personal vendetta, which is petty and ego driven, instead of focusing on victims of crime. And how sad is that? For whatever reason, the county attorney's office has refused the services of the Victim Witness Advo­ cate - regardless of the cost to the victims. The county attorney should be well aware of Amy's credentials, qualifications, and expertise through the many support letters for her program from judges, lawyers, the attorney general's of­ fice, and especially letters from the victims and their families - victims that she has helped and guided through the court system. Your office is privy to the extensive training she has had to bet­ ter serve in Beaverhead and Madison County and yet your office - unlike your counterpart in Madi­ son County - seems to have a problem working with her in any capacity. Why is that, Mr. McCann? I feel your office owes an explanation to the victims, to the Victim Witness Advocate, and to the community. You know, it is downright scary that this community is served by a county attorney and a deputy county attorney who obviously aren't aware of the law pertaining to the illegal transfer of funds from the grant-funded Victim Witness Advocate program - which is funded through June 30, 2005. And here is something else that really worries us. We have recently read about other counties in the state who have been sued because the system failed to follow the law in protecting the victims. We should think the county attorney's office would be doing everything possible to avoid paying out thousands of the taxpayer's dollars to a victim's family because the Beaverhead County justice sys­ tem failed. We wish your administration would spend as much time and energy supporting the Victim Wit­ ness Advocate and her much-needed program as you spend trying to derail it. We feel you said it best, Mr. McCann, in a letter dated November 22, 2004, when you said, \my primary objective is only that the Victim Witness Advocate has some level of oversight, accountability, and supervision.\ Where is your concern for the victims? Your statement, Mr. McCann, reveals an awful lot about what your priorities are. Could this be gender-bias? Amy's Dad's statement was: \My God, what a threat this little lady must be to the good old boys in the courthouse for them to spend this much time and energy away from their duties serv­ ing Beaverhead County.\ We do apologize for the length of this letter, but this has needed to be said for a very long time. We would much rather have shared a positive letter with you about Amy’s work as a Victim Witness Advocate, about all of her qualifications, the pan­ els she has participated in at the state level, and her certification for investigating child sexual abuse. We have been told she is awesome to watch interacting with these special ones. There isn't enough room for us to continue about her and her program because - bottom line - this is about the victims. We do have the packet she prepared and gave out to the appropriate Beaverhead County depart­ ment heads. This packet represents what Amy and her program are all about and how hard she has tried to maintain it in this county. We would love to share it with those who share concerns for our community. Sadly, it points out the valuable ser­ vice this community is missing out on. Thank you for listening to the old folks. Marty and Elbe Cooksey Dillon. MT 1 am writing in reference to a letter from Marty and Ellie Cooksey, who are requesting a response regarding their daughter , Amy Donovan's, posi­ tion as a Victim Witness Advocate for Beaverhead County. 1 try to stay out of the editorials, however, as a public servant, if someone chooses this forum to question the decisions or performance of this of­ fice I will respond if appropriate, as this letter alleges improper disbursement of funds, I felt a response was necessary. I have stated in the past that I keep an open door policy, and would prefer the courtesy of a personal discussion of anyone's concerns. The Victim Witness Advocate provides services and assistance to victims of violent crimes such as domestic assault. From a prosecutor's perspec­ tive, the assistance of an advocate with these very time consuming duties allows more time to be spent actually prosecuting criminals. I have worked with advocates in five other ju­ risdictions, and assisted in establishing the Victim Witness Advocate program in Musselshell County my first year out of law school. In summary I fully support the concept of the Victim Witness Advo­ cate program, and greatly appreciate the value of these necessary services. Ms. Donovan established the Beaverhead/Madi- son County Victim Witness Advocate Program in 1997. The relationship between Ms. Donovan and the various criminal justice agencies in Beaver­ head County has deteriorated over the years for reasons I am not aware of. The issues predate my taking office and to my knowledge have involved two prior County Attorneys. Since becoming the County Attorney in October of 2003 I haven't spoken with Ms. Donovan about any cases. As the approximately $40,000 grant for these services is currently written, Beaverhead County is being served on an outreach basis from a smaller neighboring county with a lower rate of crime. The Victim Witness Program has not provided services for any cases handled by this office since Call us at 683-2331 OR 1-800-386-3156 E-mail us at editor(®diDontribune.com Visit our web site at diDontribune.com Annua! Subscription Rates: In Beavertiead County ................................................................ * 30.00 Elsewhere in Montana ................................................................... *41.00 Outside of Montana..................................................................... *45.00 October of 201)3, and as far as 1 can tell exists only on paper. In an effort to remedy this situation, the staff at the Women's Resource Center have gener­ ously gone above and beyond what is expected of them and assisted with the cases that require vic­ tim services. I should give special recognition to Jeanie James and Therese Rawson of the Women's Resource Cen­ ter for donating their time and efforts in providing those services. For these reasons we have now applied for a collaborative grant with the Women's Resource Cen­ ter to receive the funds and create a part tinje Victim Witness Advocate position to serve Beaver­ head County and the City of Dillon. Ms. Donovan has also applied for these funds and the Board of Crime Control will make a decision and award the grant sometime in June. ' Finally, I would like to assure the citizens of Beaverhead County that the funding discussed irva public meeting with the County Commissioners did not involve grant money. ; Montana law requires every person convicted of a criminal offense or DUI to pay $25 as a victim advocate surcharge. Section 46-18-236 of the Moh- tana Code Annotated allows each county, city, pr town to retain this money to pay the expenses of a victim advocacy program, including a program op­ erated by a private, nonprofit organization that pro­ vides the services and is used by the county, city or town. (I can provide the full text of the statute on request) I approached the Commissioners about sending these funds to the Women's Resource Cen­ ter as a small measure of reimbursement for their valuable services. They felt it was the only logical thing to do, and voted unanimously to keep the funds in Beaverhead County. I am encouraging the City of Dillon to take similar action, and 1 assume the result will be simi­ lar. If anyone has further questions or concerns on this or any other topic, feel free to contact me. Marv McCann, Beaverhead County Attorney John M. Barrows, Editor & Publisher Susie Bramlette, Advertising Manager A!! contents are Copyrighted 2005 by the Dillon Tribune- Examiner. dba Dillon Tribune. No portion of this newspaper may be reproduced without the written consent of the Dillon Tribune. The Ddlon Tribune {USPS 1570-6000) is published weekly at 22 S. Montana Street. (P. O. Box 911). Dillon. Montana 59725. Telephone (406) 633-2331. Periodical Postage paid at Dillon, Montana Postmaster: Send address changes to Dillon Tribune. P.O. Box 911 Dilion. Mon;ana 59725. DlLLO íáEftl ' RI B UNE

Dillon Tribune (Dillon, Mont.), 16 Feb. 2005, located at <http://montananewspapers.org/lccn/2015269516/2005-02-16/ed-1/seq-4/>, image provided by MONTANA NEWSPAPERS, Montana Historical Society, Helena, Montana.