DRC clients helping clean up Parkersburg

PARKERSBURG -Clients with the Wood County Community Corrections Day Report Center are cleaning up downtown.

As part of the center’s community service work, and with the aid of a grant from the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation, clients are scrubbing away graffiti defacing phone booths, walls, signs, newspaper boxes, buildings and other downtown surfaces.

“Center clients have contributed 434 hours since January for community service-related work. They have worked for a multitude of organizations including Habitat for Humanity. They have cleaned up numerous illegal dumpsites in with the Wood County Solid Waste Authority, helped at the Latrobe Street Mission, assisted the Rural Cemetery Alliance in restoring rural cemeteries, worked at Fort Boreman Park, for several churches, and will be going to Mountwood Park to clean the cabins and mow,” said Dennie Huggins, director at the DRC.

Huggins said the center has a 15-passenger van available to transport clients to community service sites, previously it had been a problem taking staff away from their regular jobs at the Market Street center to provide supervision for the clients.

“The county commission recently granted permission for us to hire a part-time employee who will work 24 hours a month taking the clients out in the field for their community service work. Our newest project, which we’ve only been working on for about the last two weeks is the graffiti cleanup,” Huggins said.

Huggins said the workers had tried to clean it earlier but didn’t have the specialized cleaning materials and supplies needed to completely remove the graffiti while protecting the paint or other surfaces. With the aid of a $750 Parkersburg Area Community Foundation grant, they were able to purchase cleaners for surfaces like concrete that also won’t damage the surface.

“The cleaning supplies were quite expensive, so we applied for the grant to assist with the funding. The grant also enabled us to purchase a portable surveillance camera which we will move from place to place where there is a repeated problem with the graffiti so hopefully we can help catch some of these perpetrators,” Huggins said.

“Graffiti is a problem, it’s all over. We have been working primarily in downtown. We can’t go on private property without permission. But anything that is in a public right of way, open, we can go ahead and clean. If there is obscenity, we contact the property owners to get permission so we can get it removed,” Huggins said, noting the community foundation identified a number of problem locations that needed cleaned.

Huggins said if someone wants to contact the DRC about graffiti cleanup, they are welcome to do so, the agency is headquartered on 916 Market St., 304-422-8570.

“We just have to be careful with liability, it depends on the surface, concrete is a tougher surface, but they have specialized cleaning solution that is designed to work specifically on certain surfaces,” Huggins said.

“Much of the graffiti is symbols, but it’s everywhere, it’s all over, on phone booths, newspaper boxes, walls, it will be a continuing project,” Huggins said. “I’m pretty pleased with the cleanup project so far.”

The DRC program currently has 255 clients. The program serves Wood, Jackson and Roane counties, services have also been provided to clients from Ritchie, Wirt, Pleasants, Doddridge and Clay counties. The DRC offers clients assessment, treatment, case management, referral and community service oversight. The agency also has a drug screening lab. Clients are referred by the courts, Department of Health and Human Resources and other agencies in the criminal justice and social services system. The center is funded through grants, client fees, drug lab testing revenue and the county.