Linn County to expand program for ‘at risk’ youth

The Linn County Juvenile Department has expanded its middle school / junior high prevention program into both Lebanon and Sweet Home, Juvenile Director Torri Lynn told Linn County commissioners Roger Nyquist and Will Tucker at their Feb. 27 meeting.

Commissioner Sherrie Sprenger was not present.

Lynn said intervention specialist Beth Shook has been successfully working with 18 groups of middle school kids — 118 in all — from Greater Albany Public Schools, and reported she recently updated the GAPS Board of Education on how the program is working.

In his written report, Lynn said of the 118 young people, 112 have not been involved with law enforcement.

Now, the Juvenile Department has expanded the program to young people in Lebanon and Sweet Home with intervention specialist Emily Bell. Lynn said this is a voluntary program that targets young people who are “at risk” due to behavior or attendance issues, or poor grades.

Shook and Bell work with the young people in small groups and help them work on self-regulation skills, anger management, how to handle frustration and recognizing appropriate boundaries. The Juvenile Department also works with school officials and parents. Lynn said there are 220 young people in the Probation Unit or pending court and, of those, 52 are considered high-risk.

Lynn reported the horticulture program is ramping up and receiving pre-orders for trees and native plants from the Bureau of Land Management for soil erosion control projects. Plantings for hanging baskets and other floral and vegetable starts will begin in March.

The Tier 1 work crew completed 147 hours of community service on nine project days. During the same time period a year ago, the crew completed 8.25 hours of service. The Tier 2 work crew completed 125 hours of service over nine project days. During the same time period in 2023, the crew completed 182 hours of service.

In January, there were five young people from Benton County held for 44 total days; 22 young people from Linn County held for 230 total days; and two young people from Lincoln County held for 43 total days of care.

In other business, the commissioners:

  • Approved a Memorandum of Understanding between the Linn County Road Department and the Oregon Cascades West Council of Governments to disperse funds for the state highway fund exchange, Goldfish Farm Road improvements between Highway 20 and Bridge 328-036 totaling $1,118,600;
  • Approved the purchase of chip seal products from Sierra Santa Fe Corporation for $369,113;
  • Approved transferring $710,000 within the Health Fund from contingency to capital for the purchase and siting of two modular buildings at the Willamette Health Center;
  • Were updated on work being done by the Rural Economic Alliance by Harrisburg City Manager Michelle Eldridge. In addition to Harrisburg, Alliance members include: Adair Village, Brownsville, Halsey, Lebanon, Monroe, Philomath, Sweet Home and Tangent. The group is developing a survey that will focus on regional economic growth issues.