Director: Welfare time limit affects county

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 11, 2000

Nearly 300 Lawrence Countians have until the last quarter of this year to get a job, or they will be forced to.

Friday, February 11, 2000

Nearly 300 Lawrence Countians have until the last quarter of this year to get a job, or they will be forced to.

Email newsletter signup

Oct. 1 marks the end of the 36-month time limit for welfare benefits imposed by the Welfare Reform Law, said Buddy Martin, director of the Department of Human Services, who gave Lawrence County commissioners a progress update at the Thursday meeting.

"The first people hit the time limits Oct. 1 this year," Martin said. "That entails 262 people in Lawrence County that will hit the 36-month time limit in the last quarter of this year."

Currently 57 of the 262 participants have left assistance because of employment or termination, Martin said. Another 61 participants are underemployed and participating in department developmental programs. Twenty-six program participants are exempted because of documented medical conditions.

The remaining 118 participants are participating in the Work Experience Program, Martin said. Those who are considered high risk are required to report to the Workforce Development Resource Center one day a month to work with a counselor to overcome barriers to employment. Services offered include resume preparation, and contacting employers and private employment agencies.

Except for the 26 exemptions, once the remaining people hit the deadline, they will have to get a job or suffer without cash welfare payments, Martin said.

"Their time would be up," he said. "They would be terminated from cash pay, but not from food stamps."

But Martin is not too worried.

"We’ve already shown a lot of promise in terms of what the program is supposed to do," he said. "Statewide, we’re already down 60 percent. I think the program works."

And the government is allowing for more exemptions so no one will suffer undue hardships, Martin said.

Exception criteria will be determined this summer once Martin sees who would benefit the most from an extension of benefits, he said.

In other business Thursday, commissioners:

– Announced the Lawrence County Soil and Water Conservation District office had applied for a grant to assist in log jam removals in various creeks. If approved, the grant could give the office up to $175,000.

– Agreed to give the Rome Township Public Parks Association $1,800 – the same as given to the Concerned Citizens of the Burlington Area – for the improvement of the Old Lock and Dam 27.

– Agreed to send a letter to Chesapeake architect Robert Dalton asking for an update on the county emergency medical services station projects.

– Announced the Concerned Citizens of the Burlington Area will not meet at the Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization Multi-purpose Senior Citizen Center in Sybene to avoid liability insurance problems.

– Heard a request from Coal Grove Betterment Club co-president Les Boggs. Club officials plan to expand Paul Porter Park parking to include about 30 handicapped parking spaces. The total project will cost an estimated $28,000, and club officials asked the commissioners for support. Commissioner George Patterson encouraged Boggs to seek grants, and the commissioners approved a $1,800 donation to the project.

– Approved the request of the 911/Emergency Services director Don Mootz to set up an alternate emergency office at the Lawrence County Soil and Water Conservation District office in Linnville.

Currently, the department is revising its plan for emergency services, and an alternate office is necessary if a disaster would occur in Ironton, Mootz said.

Commissioners also approved Mootz’s request to set up mutual aid agreements with surrounding counties, which is one of the things lacking from the existing plan.

– Agreed to partially fund a drug enforcement program with the Lawrence County Drug Task Force.

Task force director Tim Sexton asked commissioners for $15,000 for anti-drug activities.

Budget uncertainties worried Patterson. He wanted to wait until after the board knew whether or not hospitalization insurance costs would increase this year.

Commissioners voted to approve $7,500 of Sexton’s request. The commission will revisit the request later on in the year, said Bruce Trent, commission president.

Drug prevention is a very important issue and the commissioners do not plan on taking it lightly, Trent added.

"There’s a very active flow of drugs and drug traffickers in Lawrence County," Trent said. "A lot of them prey upon the youth of the county."