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Smokey Sundown by Deb Brandes

Steuben County Legislature address child welfare and increase landfill fees

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BATH — A $500,00 state grant aimed at providing parents quality legal protection in child protective issues, contracting with a new operator for the county’s non-secure detention center for youth and approving new tipping fees at the county landfill were among the agenda items for the Steuben County Legislature when it met in regular session at 10 am, Monday in the county Annex on East Morris Street.

The $500,000 Upstate Family Defense (Child Welfare) Quality Improvement and Caseload Reduction Grant was awarded to the county Public Defender’s Office by the New York State Office of Indigent Legal Services (ILS). Steuben was one of five counties meeting the ILS’s criteria for the grant, which supports innovative and cost-effective solutions for public defense.

Legislators also approved a $1.2 million, five-year contract with Berkshire Farm Center and Services for Youth, for operation of the Steuben County Non-Secure Detention Facility, formerly known as Glove House, located at 6985 County Route 113 in Bath.

The ”24/7” facility will accommodate eight youth at the outset, with a license to add up to four beds in the future, according to county Department of Social Services Commissioner Kathrine Muller.

Berkshire has administered youth detention services since 2006, and provides family-specific behavioral health services with a rehabilitative focus. The agency, now headed by the former Glove House executive director, has a very specific intake process, visitation policy, and education and recreation policies.

Counseling and educational opportunities will also be provided at the facility.

The first rate hike at the landfill and transfer stations since 2016 for some items also was approved by county lawmakers.

The rate increase will cover the upswing in the cost of parts and repairs at the landfill system, which operates independent of taxpayer dollars. The increase in fees also will help fund the $12.9 million cell expansion now being planned.

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