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January declared Stalking and Human Trafficking Awareness Month

Wednesday, January 5, 2022 - The Board of Sequoyah County Commissioners signed proclamations declaring the month of January as Stalking and Human Trafficking Awareness Month. The two proclamations were approved at the regularly scheduled County Commissioners meeting on Monday.

Investigator with the Sequoyah County Sheriff’s Department, Cindy Smith, said, "Stalking Awareness Month is recognized every January across the nation and is an important issue that the public needs to be aware of."

Showing up frequently at another’s home or workplace without notice, threatening violence, making fake profiles to spy on others through social media, are just a few examples of stalking.

"Human trafficking is not how the general public views it. Therefore, it is important to create an awareness of what it looks like in our community, " Smith explained. Human trafficking affects all ages, genders, and races. A few examples include forced labor exploitation, sexual exploitation, and criminal exploitation.

"I just want to thank the County Commissioners for their support, trust, and assistance surrounding these issues," Smith added.

During the citizens' presentations, Sequoyah County Emergency Management Director Steve Rutherford provided an update regarding the current active COVID cases in Sequoyah County. Rutherford said, "The most recent update reports 80 active cases of COVID in our county."

Jace Goodwin introduced himself as the new OSU extension AG and FH agent for the county. Goodwin said, "I was born and raised here and I am happy to be able to fulfill this position."

The Sequoyah County Commissioners then discussed new business and approved the Sequoyah County Sheriff’s office to apply for the Victims of Crimes Act (VOCA) grant.

Smith gave an overview of the grant’s purpose and said, "The VOCA grant provides wages, benefits, and office supplies for a victim advocate for the county. We look at this as a positive opportunity for Sequoyah County, plus it doesn’t cost taxpayers anything." This is the sixth year that the Sheriff's department has applied for the VOCA grant, which is due to be submitted in March.

District 2 Commissioner Beau Burlison made a motion to appoint District 1 Commissioner Ray Watts as the chairman and District 3 Commissioner Jim Rogers as vice chairman of the Board of County Commissioners. The motion was approved.

Lindsie Dyer, Staff Writer

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