Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

County Approves Consent Agenda, Providing Money for Victims Center

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

County Approves Consent Agenda, Providing Money for Victims Center

Article excerpt


With nary a word, the Clay County Commission this week unanimously passed the consent portion of its agenda. It was enough to have Assistant State Attorney Sam Garrison shouting his excitement.

Nestled in the eight-item list was approval of preliminary funding for a victim services center, which will be used to treat residents who have been physically or sexually abused.

"I'm thrilled. It's tremendous," Garrison said Wednesday.

The consent agenda generally is dissected and several items are pulled for discussion by the full board. But in Tuesday's meeting, the agenda, which commissioners have in advance to review, breezed through.

For weeks, Garrison, who prosecutes sexual assaults and domestic-violence cases, has been working with County Manager Fritz Behring to come up with a plan for the county to help the project. In early May, Garrison asked commissioners for support -- especially financial -- in getting the center established.

Commissioners learned at the May meeting that the county has no such facility and victims must go to Jacksonville for processing. The sometimes hourslong trip compounds an already horrendous experience, sometimes deterring victims from pressing charges, Garrison said at the time.

"This [exam] is the cornerstone of our entire case. It preserves the evidence," he explained then.

In May, the commission directed Behring to meet with Garrison to devise a plan for financial aid.

"Fritz is extraordinarily professional," Garrison said, praising the manager for his skills and budgeting acumen.

Tuesday's approval, which was recommended by the commission's Budget, Finance and Personnel Committee, calls for providing $44,000 to get the facility functional. The figure includes rent, start-up costs and operating costs.

The funding will come on a reimbursement basis, Garrison said. …

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