Southern Utah News Articles
City Council supports establishing a Children's Justice Center in Kanab
In the 6:30 p.m. work meeting of the August 12 Kanab City Council (KCC), Kane County Attorney Rob Van Dyke presented a compelling argument for a Children’s Justice Center (CJC) in Kanab.
Van Dyke began by saying, “Our society tends to ignore or marginalize issues of physical and sexual abuse of minors. Data indicates that by the age of 18, 1 in 4 females and 1 in 6 males report being sexually abused and that is with 88 percent of rapes of minors going unreported.”
“I am asking Mayor Houston and the KCC to consider providing space in the Ranchos Fire Station for a local CJC, so that we can provide a more relaxing atmosphere to interview victimized youth and begin the healing process with them,” said Van Dyke.
The fundamental concept of a CJC as Van Dyke explained is to drastically reduce the number of interviews and interventions that a victim of sexual abuse must endure after the crime has been reported. “In the traditional model, a victim will go through 15 contacts in various settings, but in the CJC model it is reduced to about three, thereby reducing the secondary trauma experienced by the child,” Van Dyke expounded.
A CJC coordinates and consolidates the activities of law enforcement agencies, the prosecutor’s office, child protective services and medical and mental health providers.
Furnishing a physical presence in the community will also raise community awareness of this largely hidden problem and provide a place for ongoing professional training for those involved with these cases, according to Van Dyke.
Kanab’s CJC will be a satellite operation of the Iron County CJC in Cedar City, but staffed as needed by local practitioners for the most part. “Iron County’s case load went from 50-100/year to over 300/year after the creation of their CJC,” stated Van Dyke.
Kanab Fire Chief Joe Decker had no reservations about converting the empty room in the fire station for use as a CJC, “as long as we can access our fire trucks and the restroom,” he said.
Mayor Houston asked Van Dyke to draw up a lease agreement for the city to review, but the KCC gave tentative approval of the proposal.
Van Dyke concluded by saying, “An extensive makeover is planned for both the interior and exterior of the building and we hope to enlist the community to help us with that. We want to provide a warm setting for victims and their supporters to be able to converse with professionals working to bring to conclusion these distressing events.”
A public hearing on the city’s proposed property tax increase (in the form of continuing the tax used to pay off the bond for Kanab’s fire station, rather than end it with the retirement of the bond this year) found no disapproval from the audience in attendance.
Mayor Houston anticipated that the roughly $25,000 generated by this tax would provide $10,000 for new capital improvements and the same for repairs on existing capital projects, along with $5,000 for economic development. The tax funds will be incorporated into the final city budget to be adopted at the August 26 KCC meeting.
However, the passage of this tax by the KCC was not unanimous with Councilmember Kent Burggraaf arguing that the tax continues a bad budgeting history and voted against it.
“It’s irresponsible as a tax revenue policy,” Burggraaf stated emphatically, and what about the next time we ask taxpayers to fund a bond (with a property tax increase)?”
Councilmember Brent Chamberlain countered by saying, “We made a lot of adjustments to the expenditures side of the budget and this $25,000 does make a difference in funding necessary capital improvements.” The tax proposal passed.
The Caterpillar backhoe, being demoed by the Public Works Department, has been found lacking in sufficient power for it’s appointed tasks.
“The crew found the old John Deere backhoe to perform better and desire to demo a new John Deere instead of the CAT,” said City Manager Joe Decker. “It would cost an additional $6,000, but in a short time we could make that up in labor costs because it’s more efficient,” concluded Decker. The council gave permission to demo the Deere.
Kanab’s Beautification Committee gained two new members. Recent transplant from Big Water to Kanab James Page, and horticultural specialist Jana de Peyer were welcomed by the KCC to their new positions.