Marion County Board approves grant to expand juvenile court

Marion County Board approves grant to expand juvenile court

The Marion County Board has accepted a $64,800 grant to expand the juvenile court to two days a week.

Resident Circuit Court Judge Mark Stedelin said Juvenile Judge Ericka Sanders had sought the grant as a result of a doubling of the number of juvenile abuse and neglect cases over the past few years.

“Its absolutely needed.  We do have a problem in our Juvenile Court systems because we just simply have too many cases to sit on one day right now so that’s the way we are going to address it.  We still have some details to work out.  We anticipate if the grant agreement is approved we will start our 2nd date per week on Monday, October 7.”

Stedelin says the grant will allow the guardian ad-litem for juveniles $28,800 a year and the salary of the conflict public defender Matt Wilzbach to $36,000 a year.

Wilzbach would now be the first appointed to any juvenile abuse or neglect cases. Stedelin said that would greatly increase Wilzbach’s caseload.

Stedelin noted the grant can be renewed for a second year. If the grant ever goes away, he told the board they are not obligated to continue paying the higher salaries.

The board will seek bids on glazing and sealing the terra-cotta on the outside walls of the courthouse. Building Committee member Wes Goza says the hope is the bids come in low enough to allow the work to be completed this fall.

Board Chair Debbie Smith reported the county’s cyber issues are now mostly resolved. New switchers and fiber were laid in the courthouse and public service building to speed up the internet speeds in county offices.

The board named Richard Gregg and Marvae Bledsoe to the Housing Authority Board and reappointed Dr. Creighton Engel, Keith Kessler and Tom Turner to the Marion County Health Board.

Board Chair Smith appointed her husband Bill to the Southeastern Illinois Economic Development Authority. Board member Erwin Hahn cast the only no vote, saying it bordered on nepotism. However, Debbie Smith emphasized this was an unpaid
position and the board had asked her husband to serve due to his building experience.

County Clerk Steve Fox says an effort is being made to get the authority up and running so it can be used as a potential funding source for economic development projects, including one in Centralia.