Brown County Commissioners approved the acceptance Monday of a $28,600 grant from the West Central Texas Council of Governments that will help fund the operation of the Heart of Texas Child Advocacy Center, which will be located in Early.
The COG grant will be used as a portion of county's match to a state grant of $55,000, Brown County Attorney Shane Britton told commissioners. The county will also provide an "in-kind" match that includes donations of material and equipment and volunteer and professional work, Britton said.
The center is intended lessen the trauma of child abuse victims, bringing several professionals under one roof including a forensic interviewer, sexual assault nurse examiner, counseling and therapy, and victims assistance and referrals, law enforcement officials have said.
Assistant County Attorney Elisha Bird said earlier a child advocacy center is designed to give prosecutors "the best shot in the world" at putting on a case without having the child testify.
A child advocacy center had been open in Early as a satellite office of the Hill Country Child Advocacy Center, which is in Burnet. The satellite office in Early opened last year but closed earlier this year due to lack of funding.
Britton said the center is expected to open next month.
In other business, commissioners:
• Did not enact a burn band.
• Approved Cindy Hadley as a new member of the Child Welfare Board. Hadley replaces Cheryl Nelson, who was unable to remain on the board. Two vacancies remain on the board, and board chairwoman Kitty Cavanaugh said anyone interested in serving is welcome to contact the organization.
• Approved a proclamation declaring Nov. 26 as Brown County Adoption Day.
• Approved a proclamation declaring November as Official Home Care and Hospice Month.
• Approved the hiring of Rhonda Earp as a deputy county clerk at an annual salary of $18,500. Earp's salary was initially stated as being at the entry-level pay of $18,000, but Brown County Judge Ray West asked Brown County Clerk Sharon if Earp should receive $18,500 because of her previous experience working for the county. Ferguson said she hadn't been sure if it was appropriate to ask for that amount, which, she said, is the same salary the other deputy criminal clerk earns. Ferguson said she would go ahead and request the higher amount for Earp.
Commissioner Joel Kelton voted against the higher salary, saying "I fell you all just opened a can of worms." Kelton said commissioners have set starting salaries for employees, and other departments might end up seeking higher starting salaries for some of their employees. Kelton noted that commissioners had earlier decided against paying a former drug task force agent a higher-than-base salary when he started work as a sheriff's deputy.
• Passed on approving the replat of a .13 acre lot off Mallard Loop in the Feather Bay Phase I subdivision, saying there are additional steps lot owner Billy Gressett needs to take. Once Gressett has taken those steps, West said, the court will approve the replat without requiring Gressett to be present.