DRC board hopes to pick director soon

PARKERSBURG – The Mid-Ohio Valley Community Corrections Day Report Center board hopes to name a new director in July.

Wood County Commissioner Blair Couch, commission liaison and president of the DRC board, said operations at the DRC have been going smoothly under the leadership of Hernando Escandon, who was appointed interim director in February. Couch said the DRC board anticipates naming a permanent director to the post possibly by mid-July.

“Hernando has been doing a great job by all reports. He was one of the original employees when the Day Report Center first opened, and is the only original employee still there as far as I know; he has done educational classes; he is well respected statewide, and handles all his duties admirably. All the staff members have taken on additional duties and have really come through. We are currently waiting word on our grant request. A lot of effort was put into the grant application. Once we get through that process, the board can discuss options,” Couch said.

The plan is to advertise the director’s position internally first, Couch said.

“If Hernando applies for the job and is chosen, we would need to get another full-time case manager,” Couch said.

DRC officials have concerns about their pending grant request in light of the governor’s $500,000 cut in the state’s community corrections funding and the addition of three counties to the competition.

“There is some concern our grant funds could be diminished and we are appointing a new director, and may be needing to hire an additional case manager and our money might be tighter. We are just trying to wait and see what we’ll have to work with and make sure we have adequate funding,” Couch said.

The program operates on grant funding, money from the county, drug lab revenues and fees collected from clients.

“However, there is concern that if our grant funds would be diminished and we are faced with appointing a new director, hiring a new case manager if we need to, and our money would be tighter, we are just trying to play the odds that we have adequate funding,” Couch said.

“One of the fallacies of the program is that we can never turn a client away due to their inability to pay; we have to take them if they are placed on the program,” Couch said. “And we are providing services to two other counties as well.”

The state urged more regional participation by programs.

Couch noted the center has had directors with past law enforcement background and backgrounds in administration.

“It’s been awhile since we’ve had someone with case management experience and that may be the tact we take,” Couch said. “But the staff has really risen to the task at hand and so has Escandon; from all indications, is really doing a great job.”

Escandon, clinical director, was named in early February by the commission as interim director after Dennie Huggins announced he would be leaving the post. Huggins became director of the center on Jan. 1, 2013, replacing Jeff Williams, a former police officer, who earlier retired.

The DRC offers an alternative sentencing program, including assessment, case management, substance abuse treatment, batterers intervention prevention programming/counseling. The clients receive life skills training, counseling and rehabilitation, along with supervised community service.

Participants are assigned to the program through the court system. Client referrals come through the courts, Department of Health and Human Services, law enforcement, Home Confinement Program, probation, parole officials and attorneys.

The center on Market Street serves Wood County, with satellite offices in Roane and Jackson counties. The center also houses a drug testing lab, which is used by the DRC and Wood County Home Confinement Program for drug testing of clients as well as contractual services to outside agencies.