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Grant will help combat domestic violence

A grant recently issued by Gov. Bob Riley to help in the fight against domestic violence will reach Covington County indirectly, through workshops, training and some paid staff. The grant, of $163,400 has been given to the Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence (ACADV), which supports the creation of domestic violence task forces in all 40 Alabama judicial districts and advocates increased training for existing task forces. According to Chief Assistant District Attorney Greg Gambril, the 22nd Judicial District's fledgling Domestic Violence Task Force has yet to get off the ground.

"It is still in existence but it took a bit of a slowdown in that there was a change of leadership with one of our major partners

- Opportunity House," said Gambril. "The new director - Deborah Hooks - and I will be meeting very soon to discuss getting things started back up."

Hooks

said she is ready to get the task force up and running, as well as reviving the Coordinated Community Response to Domestic Violence program.

"It lets the community know more about domestic violence and how to be aware of it," said Hooks

Some of the funds from the grant will enable the coalition to help the area get its task force into operation.

"They can't ask for funding directly," said Carol Gundlach, executive director of the ACADV, who was aware of the Covington County situation. "What they will be able to do is apply for funding to some things. We can help them pay for workshops, training, law enforcement training. We'll be able to pay for some staff to come down and help get it started again."

"Domestic violence is an inexcusable act that harms far too many people," said Gov. Riley upon the issuance of the grant. "This coalition not only increases awareness of the dangers associated with family violence, but also sends a message that these crimes will not be tolerated in Alabama."

Special emphasis in the training programs will be placed on rural task forces and healthcare providers. Other plans include providing services to Hispanic residents and training cosmetologists to recognize domestic violence and provide information and advice to their customers.

The funds will also help the coalition implement certain uniform policies on domestic violence that will be used by probation officers, healthcare providers, court referral officers and health education teachers. Coalition officials say this coordinated community response - on a statewide scale - will help reduce cases of domestic violence.

Riley awarded the grant from funds made available to the state through a program of the US Department of Justice. He has designated the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs to administer the grant. ADECA Director John Harrison notified Susanna Smith Naisbett, the coalition board president, that the grant had been approved. Local matching funds of $54,466 have been pledged to the program.