Pierce County News

1. County seeks court advocates for children

Each year hundreds of children end up in court in Pierce County. They have committed no crime. Unfortunately, some children are abused and neglected by their own parents. It is up to a judge to decide where they will spend their next months or years.

When a court must intervene to help a child, someone should be there to tell the child’s story and protect his or her future. Court Appointed Special Advocates are ordinary people doing extraordinary work for abused and neglected children.

Residents of Pierce County can help these children have a chance to live in safe, permanent homes by volunteering to be a child’s voice in court as a CASA. There is no pay, but there are great rewards of satisfaction that come from helping children in need. No legal experience is required, just time and support. “Our goal is for every child abuse victim in foster care to have an advocate,” said Lin Spellman, volunteer services manager for Pierce County Juvenile Court. “Volunteer advocates can make a powerful difference in a child’s life.”

Volunteer CASA training is required, and training opportunities are coming up in the immediate future. To register or obtain additional information, contact Spellman at 253-798-3837 or lspellm@co.pierce.wa.us.

2. DVD explains domestic violence protection order process

Pierce County Superior Court has produced a DVD to prepare people for obtaining a domestic violence protection order. Copies of the seven-minute documentary can be obtained for free from the Superior Court Administration office on the 5th floor of the County-City Building, 930 Tacoma Ave. S., Tacoma (253-798-3654).

“When individuals finally seek a protection order, they are often distraught. We hope this short DVD will explain the process to them before they begin and lessen any anxiety they are experiencing,” said Judge Kitty-Ann van Doorninck, who was the creative force behind the project. The DVD is available in English and Spanish versions.

The DVD is aimed at giving domestic violence victims and family members a better understanding of the process involved in seeking a domestic violence protection order. It lists the criteria and steps required to obtain the order, including serving the alleged abuser and making a court appearance.

The DVD has been distributed to domestic violence organizations, shelters, social agencies and libraries throughout Pierce County. It has been used in three training sessions attended by judicial officers and other court personnel.

3. New hours announced for County-City Building

The County-City Building will open a half hour later and close a half hour earlier effective May 2. The new hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Pierce County Executive John W. Ladenburg announced the change, which was recommended by the Courthouse Security Standing Committee. “We anticipate the change will have positive results in terms of courthouse safety and efficient use of county staff and other resources,” said Mike Panagiotu, the committee’s chair.

A study conducted by the Sheriff’s court security detail showed that few citizens enter the building between 7:30 and 8 a.m. and between 4:30 and 5 p.m. No public business is conducted during those time frames.

The change in hours is expected to reduce the amount of overtime incurred by the court security detail. Annual savings are estimated at $25,000.

All authorized Pierce County and City of Tacoma employees and Pierce County Bar Association members will continue to be admitted to the building under the current system and timeframes. For special events, such as County Council and other organized meetings, the court security detail will need to be notified to allow authorized entry.

4. PCN focuses on transporation funding

Pierce County’s cable television news show, Pierce County News, will highlight:

— Proposed gas tax increase by the state’s lawmakers;

— Executive Ladenburg on funding for the Cross-Base Highway and other
transportation projects;

— Regional Transportation Investment District (RTID) brings local and state officials together for developing transportation funding strategies.

This week’s show includes segments on avoiding summer traffic snarls, efforts to update the Chambers Creek Master Site Plan and Daffodil Festival Queen Jessica DeWitt’s remarks to the County Council. In addition, upcoming community activities and volunteer opportunities are listed. The parks segment takes viewers to Lake Spanaway Park for a history lesson about park improvements.

The 10-minute newscast is produced by C-RCC and can be viewed on channels 22-Comcast and 86-Click! Sunday through Thursday at 7:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m., and Saturday at 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 p.m. For questions or comments, call 253-589-5878 or visit http://www.rcc.pierce.wa.us.