Task force plans dinner, informational fair

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NORWAY — A community task force dedicated to combating domestic violence met Wednesday to plan a supper and resource fair for next month.

The event is scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. April 29 at the Second Congregational Church. Planners say it will include representatives from local service providers, a free buffet dinner, and a children’s activity area.

Chief Robert Federico of the Norway Police Department said the Oxford County Domestic Violence Task Force was formed as a way to provide a community response to domestic violence. He said it began to branch into other areas related to the problem.

“It has been everything from substance abuse issues to housing issues,” Federico said.

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The task force was established in 2005 and includes representatives from several different agencies, including the Abused Women’s Advocacy Project, Community Concepts, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Rape Education and Crisis Hotline.

The goal of the event will be to let the public know about the services available in the area. Federico said many services are available at no cost; for example, fees are waived for protection from abuse orders. Healthy Oxford Hills has donated a $250 “mini-grant” to purchase food for the dinner.

Jeanie Stone, an intervention coordinator with the Oxford Hills School District, said several resources are available in the schools for domestic abuse and other problems. These include a school resource officer from the Paris Police Department, social workers, drug and alcohol prevention counselors, and representatives from social organizations in the area.

Stone said she works with more than 130 students determined to be at risk of dropping out, and also advises students in the Respect Team. This group aims to make the environment at the schools and community more respectful, and will be visiting the Oxford Elementary School next week to speak about bullying prevention. The team will also hold a wellness day at the Oxford Hills Middle School in Paris later in the year.

Stone said that such services might be compromised by proposed state cuts.

“We are certainly going to have huge deficits there,” she said. “It’s going to be a huge loss.”

Diane Gallagher of the Abused Women’s Advocacy Project said there are also plans to start a similar domestic violence task force in the River Valley area.

mlangeveld@sunjournal.com

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