Ron Wolff County Forum December 14, 2009
Wolff’s Sandwich Shoppe, Atlantic, VA
Meeting began at 7:00 PM
Presenter: Ron Wolff, Accomack County District Representative
Guest in Audience: Sean Milner, Director, 2A Judicial District Court Service Unit (Juvenile Services)
Audience: About 10 members.
There is no agenda or audio recorded for this meeting.
Opening Remarks: Mr. Wolff commented on last meeting’s rumored annexation plans of Wattsville by Chincoteague. There is no additional info at this time. There are some indications that annexation plans may not be in the near future, or at all. There are some concerns about the need for sewer treatment for the island and this may be motivation for continuing discussions on this topic of rumored annexation.
A review of the damage to Assateague Island from the recent Nor’easter was discussed. The future of the parking lot on the beach was mentioned. The possibility of a shuttle was considered but this may cause problems in getting tourists to come to Chincoteague if they had to use a shuttle.
Mr. Wolff commented on the car float (barge) in Cape Charles. In order to repair car float Accomack and Northampton counties need to invest $300K. The county would like to have railroad handle the costs each year if they have sufficient business on car float.
He mentioned the state budget and more cuts are planned for near future. This will depend on the economy and areas that can be cut.
Guest Speaker: Sean Milner has been doing work with the judicial system for 13 years. He is involved in the judicial services for juveniles. These juvenile services are attached to the court house in Accomac. He handles domestic affairs, custodial issues and juvenile probations. The state funds these services and the county gives office space for these services. They do not give legal advice but assist in having proper paperwork prepared for programs. There were 1300 petitions that were reviewed for 2008; numbers for 2009 are not currently available. In terms of statistics, 1% of the juveniles locally had paperwork prepared for them.
These juveniles have background checks for their families to ascertain if there is a viable living situation for troubled juveniles. These services are done for the judge, state, victim, and for the juvenile delinquent. Mr. Milner, in many cases, has to convince citizens and judicial system that kids need a second chance and should not marred for life by offenses in their youth. Juveniles are considered as such until the age of 21. All forms of consequences are considered including community service and detention. There are five detention centers in the state depending on risks. One center was recently closed at Natural Bridge. While in detention, parents may be required to provide child support. It is difficult without proper funding to have troubled juveniles change their pattern of behavior. At this time, some programs are being cut that are required by the Code of Virginia. Using GPS can save funding by a factor of ten instead of placing juveniles in detention.
The mandated provisions include parole for juveniles. Other actions may include drug testing and transportation to facilities. The provisions are provided 24 hours a day.
These services are provided for both Accomack and Northampton counties from the Accomac offices and Mr. Milner oversees both counties. He also discussed diversion programs to remove juveniles from the system so they do not commit other delinquent acts. Another concern is truancy and this may also be handled by these offices.
He commented that services involve schools and families to a great extent. He stated that there is unreported crime in the schools. He mentioned gangs, and they have been in the area and considered for eight years now.
The age of youths committing crimes have been going down; recently a 12 year old has been placed in services. Serious crime includes larceny and assault, but other interventions involve DUI and other petty crimes and misdemeanors.
With modern technology, computer records can be located on youth delinquency and attempts are made to minimize impact that youths may have later in life; however, this is becoming more difficult with search engines and other computer records.
One current concern is bringing the costs for juvenile services to localities and less on the state. This could be a major problem if this occurs since many localities do not know the full cost of these services and how they may negatively impact local budgets. Schools have been buffered by Stimulus Package but in three years this could be a severe problem when funding is not available in future.
One key is that juvenile systems are groomed for a particular locality and juvenile concerns. Some may be more police actions versus counseling. Overall, Mr. Milner considered his work very challenging yet very satisfying in helping young people remain out of trouble.
Mr. Wolff and audience thanked Mr. Milner for his presentation.
Meeting ended at 8:35 PM
Notes by Tim Getek
N.B. These notes do not constitute the public record of this meeting. The information contained herein is offered in good faith and is presented as accurately as possible. These notes are intended to be a public service devoid of political commentary for those who are interested in following the civic affairs of Chincoteague Island and Accomack County. Notes of the meeting are recorded, transcribed and distributed by volunteers who receive no financial compensation for their efforts.