Mission approves programs to help distressed children and families

Mission’s City Council has taken measures to assist children and families in need by approving the use of one building and the construction of another.  The council also approved funding to pay for body cameras for its police officers.

On Jan. 9 the council agreed to lease for $1 a year the Strickland Building on Conway Avenue to be used by the Children’s Advocacy Center.  Currently the closest center is in Edinburg.

The CAC was established in 2000 to help victims of child abuse in Hidalgo and Starr Counties. CAC is one of 70 centers across the state that addresses the needs of child abuse victims ages 2 to 17, said executive director, Victoria Medina.

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Medina said the centers provide a safe, child-friendly environment for victims to meet with representatives of law enforcement, child protective services as well as  prosecution, medical and mental health professionals who may share information and develop effective programs to help each child.

CAC will provide specialized forensic interviews that are taped and may be admissible in court as evidence, said Medina. Medical and mental health assessments and treatment will be done locally through an agreement with Mission Regional Medical Center. Team reviews will assure all information relative to the case has been gathered. There will be debriefings and assessments of children and non-offending family members for crisis and crisis intervention, if needed.  Individual and family counseling and support groups will also be available, Medina said.

City Manager Martin Garza said this new location will be an asset to many Mission parents for whom transportation to Edinburg has been difficult.
Also Monday the council approved a $50,000 allocation for construction of a home that will be used to provide shelter for temporarily displaced families or families in unexpected emergencies. Deputy City Manager Aida Lerma said the time the families could stay would be limited and the home would be used only in cases of extreme emergency. The home will be constructed on property donated to the city by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, she said.

In other action the council approved plans to seek a state grant to purchase 165 body cameras for city police. The $200,815 grant from the Governor’s Criminal Justice Division would include the software and other accessories,  Police Chief Robert Dominguez told the council the city would provide a 20-percent match of $40,163 that would be paid through the Federal Drug Forfeiture Fund.

The council also approved the chief’s request to spend $11,981 to purchase 15 bullet proof vests to replace those in the police department that are five years old or older. And the council agreed to permit Dominguez to seek a $26,700 grant to purchase computer-based software that will allow MPD to convert a Uniform Crime Report into an Incident Based Reporting System.

Also Monday the council approved resolutions declaring the adoption of four new Mexico Sister Cities. They are the cities of General Teran, Santiago and Guadalupe, each in the state of Nuevo Leon, and the city of Coatlan del Rio in Morelos.

The Speer Memorial Library declared 10 older computers as surplus and the council approved plans to donate them to Mexico Sister Cities.  Another 40 old computers will be auctioned for parts on the Internet, per council approval.

Under board appointments, Eric Eli Olivarez was appointed to the southeast position for the Citizens Advisory Board. Heraclio “Laco” Flores Jr., was appointed to the Parks and Recreation Board. Councilman Ruben Plata will serve as alternate for the mayor’s position on the Mission Educational Development Corporation. And Julian Gonzalez was appointed to serve as an alternate to the Zoning Board of Adjustments.

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