Meigs remembers lives cut short by crime

By Lorna Hart -

Luminary bags were placed at a memorial set up along the river wall in Pomeroy for “Remember Lives cut short by Crime.”

POMEROY — As time goes by, many crime victims are forgotten.

After the incident, the police report and investigation, arrests and sentencing, many in the community put the event behind them. But for the victims and their families, it is never far from their minds.

Whether it was the loss or harm of a loved one or a personal experience as a casualty of crime, the incident changes their lives forever. The most society has to offer is a fair and speedy justice system and support for those recovering for the traumatic event.

Meigs County is fortunate to have members of law enforcement and victims assistance programs working together addressing their needs through supportive programs aimed a healing and recovery.

The Meigs County Victim Assistance Program is a project of Prosecutor Colleen Williams. Using a grant from the Ohio Attorney General’s office for crime victim services, the program has a full-time director, Theda Petrasko, and a full-time advocate, Shelley Kemper.

Meigs County was awarded a special mini-grant in 2016 for National Crime Victims’ Rights week programs and activities, the National Organization for Victim Assistance training in Dallas, and general training in Ohio in May.

With the theme of “Healing and Recovery from a Traumatic Event,” members of the community came together at Farmers Bank in Pomeroy during Crime Victims’ Rights week to honor victims and show appreciation for their struggles.

Keynote speaker Tami Henry, site manager and clinical director at Woodland Centers in Pomeroy, spoke on “Healing and Recovery from a Traumatic Event.” Woodland Centers is a private not-for-profit provider of behavioral health services in southeastern Ohio, offering diagnostic assessment, counseling and community support services and emergency services sometimes needed by victims and their families.

Henry spoke on topics most relevant to those in the audience, and covered post-traumatic stress, triggers and supporting each other through traumatic events. She encouraged sharing experiences as a way of healing and support.

Meigs County Sheriff Keith Wood was also in attendance to show his support for the victims’ assistance program. Williams presented K-9 Officer Brandy King, a member of Wood’s team, with a “Certificate of Appreciation for Outstanding Service on Behalf of Crime Victims.” Both Williams and Petrasko said she was deserving of the award because she works so well with others.

“We so appreciate all the work she does with our office,” Williams said. “She is an outstanding member of law enforcement.”

At the close of the evening, Petrasko encouraged everyone who had assembled to take a luminary bags and place it at the memorial for crime victims in the pavilion along the river.

The week’s events were sponsored by Williams and Petrasko, who said it was a collaborative effort. They acknowledged the work done by the Meigs High School football seniors, the Eastern High School Honor Society and Pastor John Swanson in setting up the memorial in the pavilion and 525 shoes, each with a victim’s name attached, along the river wall in Pomeroy.

“This group was amazing. It takes a lot of effort and hard work to erect the memorial,” Petrasko said. “It is such an important part of the week. It is a reminder of just how many victims there were in Meigs County alone in 2015.”

The memorial and shoes have been put away for another year, and Petrasko and Williams hope it served as a reminder for members of the community to “Remember lives cut short by crime.”

Contact Lorna Hart at 740-992-2155 Ext. 2551.

Luminary bags were placed at a memorial set up along the river wall in Pomeroy for “Remember Lives cut short by Crime.” bags were placed at a memorial set up along the river wall in Pomeroy for “Remember Lives cut short by Crime.”

By Lorna Hart