Upshur County school leaders asked the county commissioners Thursday for continued support of the Prevention Resource Officer program, saying it has made a huge difference in the attitudes of the middle school students.
Jodie Akers said the school board will be seeking $28,000 in grant funding that will keep an officer at Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School. An officer has been at the school for two years.
"We believe it is an invaluable resource for our school system," she said.
B-UMS principal Renee Warner said there has been a 63 percent decline in truancy cases since deputy sheriff C.J. Day started at the school. She said there has also been a 52 percent decline in the number of violent acts at the school.
"We believe C.J.'s presence at the middle school is making a huge difference," Warner said. "He has established relationships with the staff and students that we believe is invaluable. He is someone I don't want to lose."
Commissioner Donnie Tenney said he appreciates the positive influence which has come from having a deputy roaming the halls of the school, but noted that "it's a shame society has come to where it is needed." He said he believes the community will see long-lasting benefits from the program.
"Even though you are seeing the benefits now, I think the benefits later will be even greater," he said.
Commissioner Buddy Brady echoed those sentiments, saying the middle school students should have an easier time adjusting to high school and in becoming better citizens as adults.
"The numbers show it is definitely working," Brady said. "I'm glad we are involved in this program. I think it's outstanding that the students go to C.J., even about their problems at home."
In other matters, the county commission approved a rental agreement for the National Guard Armory for use during a March 21 Office of Emergency Management training exercise.
The commissioners also reminded the community of an April 4 public hearing at 11 a.m. to discuss an amendment to a 911 ordinance that would increase monthly fees attached to land-line telephones from $2.65 to $4.50 for residential customers and $6.50 for business and Centrex customers.