Columbus rescue to help shelter: Gigi’s Animal Rescue to donate $3 for every $1 raised

Published 12:59 pm Wednesday, September 18, 2019

A group has agreed to give generously for renovations at the Lawrence County Animal Shelter.

At Tuesday’s Lawrence County Commissioners’ meeting, it was announced that a private company in Columbus called Gigi’s Animal Rescue has chosen Lawrence County to be part of a pilot project and will give $3 for every $1 that is raised.

“We need our citizens to get behind this opportunity and even if you can just donate $1, it will mean so much for the potential of the animal shelter,” Commissioner DeAnna Holliday said. “Every $1 turns into $4.”

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She said the group is investing in counties throughout Ohio and may expand to other states eventually.

She said the renovations at the shelter include a heating and cooling system that has already been installed and kennels are being upgraded.

“We are really going to have a state-of-the-art facility for animal care,” she said.

They have a GoFundMe account and it has already received $2,045 as of Tuesday afternoon after being set up on Monday night.

“It’s doing pretty well,” Hayes said. “We are doing a complete overhaul at the shelter. It was in pretty rough shape.”

To participate and follow, go to the Lawrence County Animal Shelter Facebook page. Holliday said they will also repost information on the commissioners’ Facebook page.

On the commissioners’ agenda was the Targeting Community Alternatives to Prison (T-CAP) program at its meeting Thursday, which was requested by Lawrence County Common Pleas Judge Andy Ballard. This is the third year for the grant.

T-CAP grant money is awarded to Ohio counties to effectively supervise, treat and hold accountable low-level, non-violent offenders, and at the same time, safely reduce Ohio’s prison population.

The target population of the T-CAP program associated with the grant is fifth-degree non-violent, non-sex and/or non-aggravated trafficking offenders who also do not have previous felony records. Those who eligible are able to go to a community-based correctional facility instead of state prison for their crimes.

Lawrence County Prosecutor Brigham Anderson said the program is for fifth-degree non-violent, non-sex and/or non-aggravated trafficking offenders without a previous felony record. Those that qualify go to a local jail or drug rehabilitation facility rather than a state prison.

He said judges can still sentence them to prison instead of jail, but they are limited by state statute.

He said that, in 2016, Lawrence County sent 54 fifth-degree offenders to prison but in the last fiscal year only sent 20.

“So, we cut that number down by engaging in T-CAP,” Anderson said. “The year before that, we sent 34.”

Anderson said the offenders still serve the same amount of time wherever they are placed. The maximum sentence for a fifth-degree felony offense is 12 months.

He said that besides saving the state and the county money, it has been his experience that low-level offenders that go to a prison just come out as a better criminal.

Ballard said the Lawrence County courts have a unique perspective and have learned from their successes as well as their failures.

He said the T-CAP program began in September 2017.

“We just kept getting better and better. In the beginning, we were sentencing heavily,” Ballard said, adding that they were using the jail but as time went on, they sought treatment facilities for the offenders as they learned more. “We got better each month.”

He said that the sentences can be modified depending on how the offenders do in the program.

“This is a procedure I believe in. This is a procedure we have seen positive results from and this is a procedure I will continue to practice in my court,” Ballard said.

The commissioners accepted the grant.

In items on the agenda, the commissioners accepted a motion to change the name of the street that leads to the former Waterloo High School from Elm Street to Wonder Way. It was referred it to the engineer’s office.

In notes from the commissioners, one topic of discussion was about when they would be able to meet at their regular place at the Lawrence County Courthouse, which is undergoing renovations. It was reported that the meetings probably wouldn’t resume there until after the New Year.

• Commissioner Freddie Hayes reminded everyone that the senior dinner will be at 11 a.m. on Friday at the First Baptist Church of Proctorville, which is near the fairgrounds.