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Domestic violence a community problem
April a time to remember sexual assault, child abuse victims
new deh county commission crisis center pic
Monday morning, the Barton Count Commission approved proclamations recognizing April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Child Abuse Prevention Month. These were requested by the Family Crisis Center. - photo by Tribune file photo

Barton County Commission meeting at a glance

Here is a quick look at what the Barton County Commission did Monday morning:

• Learned from County Treasurer Jim Jordan that Barton County property tax information is now available on the county’s website, There is a link on the home page taking the user to a search option.

• Repealed the temporary county-wide burn ban. Emergency Manager Amy Miller said the move was requested by county fire chiefs.

• Renamed Toni Rice and Russell Carson to the Barton County Planning Commission to non-compensated three-year terms that end in 2021. 

• Approved a joint proclamation with the City of Great Bend recognizing Monday as World Autism Awareness Day 2018.

• Approved a proclamation marking April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month 2018.

• Approved a proclamation marking April as Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month 2018.

• Heard an update on the natural gas pipeline company ONEOK Inc. from Michael Gillaspie, the company’s government affairs representative for Colorado and Kansas. 

• Approved a real property relief application for tax year 2017 for Clayton Carris of Pawnee Rock as a result of the May 16, 2017, tornado. In May, 2017, Barton County saw a tornado destroy property along a path from Pawnee Rock to K-4. After the event, the commission adopted a resolution that allowed property owners to apply for tax relief if damage to their homestead equaled or exceeded 50 percent of the market value, County Appraiser Barb Esfeld said. This was the sixth, and probably last, application, Esfeld said. Tax relief from the six properties totaled $4,644.68.

• Heard a review of the Sales Ratio Study and related duties from Esfeld.

 A pair of proclamations approved by the Barton County Commission Monday morning call attention to the ongoing problem of domestic violence. They marked April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Child Abuse Prevention Month and were requested by the Family Crisis Center.

April is designated as Sexual Assault Awareness Month to raise public awareness about sexual violence and to educate communities and individuals on how to prevent sexual violence, said center Executive Director Joanne Wondra. The center provides services for sexual assault survivors and offers educational and professional training for community members and professionals.

“Recent statistics show one on six women are a victim of sexual violence in their lifetimes,” Wondra said. She ran through these startling numbers:

• Eighty percent of those assaults are carried out on victims under the age of 30.

• Girls ages 16-19 are four times more likely than the general population to be sexual assault victims. 

• One in four women have been a victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner.

• Nearly 10 percent of high school students report being hit, slapped, or physically hurt by their boyfriend.

“These are your wives, girlfriends, sisters, mothers, daughters, nieces and friends,” Wondra said. “They are part of our families and our community.”

Closer to home, Wondra said the center received 273 calls reporting domestic violence in 2017, 93 of which were sexual assault. And, law enforcement received 213 calls in Barton County.

Sadly, she said, cases of domestic violence are under-reported.

Wondra also mentioned: the second-annual Red Shoes and Bunco Too event from 6:30-10:30 p.m. Friday, April 13, at the Great Bend Columbus Hall, 723 Main Street; and the sixth-annual Walk A Mile In Her Shoes event and family fun night set for 6:30-8:30 p.m. Thursday, April 26, in downtown Great Bend, on Broadway Ave. from Main Street to Kansas. 

Child Abuse Month

The center also requested a proclamation be adopted declaring April as Child Abuse Prevention Month. This states child abuse and neglect can be reduced by making sure families have the support needed to raise children in a healthy environment and that there are dedicated individuals and organizations in Barton County working to counter these problems, said Kasey Dalke, child advocacy director/forensic interviewer for the center. 

The mission of the Dell Hayden Memorial Child Advocacy Center is “Providing victims of child abuse and their families a multidisciplinary response, advocacy and support to reduce trauma and hold perpetrators accountable while creating a safer community through awareness, education, and prevention,” Dalke said.

“It’s a community problem,” Dalke said. “We all need to be involved.”

The Family Crisis Center, based in Great Bend, provides advocacy and support to all survivors and secondary victims of domestic and sexual violence, child abuse and neglect. The Domestic and Sexual Violence Center creates a safe environment for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault to understand the resources and options available for those in Barton, Barber, Comanche, Edwards, Kiowa, Ness, Pawnee, Pratt, Rush and Stafford counties.  

The Dell Hayden Memorial Child Advocacy Center creates a safe, family-friendly environment for children and families. The CAC becomes involved with the children and families upon referral from Department for Children and Families and/or Law Enforcement in order to assist with the investigative process and provide services through referrals as well as advocacy to the child and family. Services for the CAC are provided in Barton, Pawnee, Rush and Stafford counties.