The County Attorney’s Juvenile Diversion Program's contract with CEDARS to create an “Attendance Advocates” pilot program for truant youth was a main focus during the regular meeting of the board on Tuesday, April 24 at the Otoe County Courthouse.

"The Otoe County Attorney's Office currently works with CEDARS as a provider of juvenile detention alternatives such as tracker services and electronic monitoring," said Otoe County Attorney, David J. Partsch. Vanessa Sherman is currently employed by the Otoe County Attorney's Office as the Juvenile Diversion Coordinator. Sherman is also the County's juvenile grants manager, so she is familiar with CEDARS. 

CEDARS was founded in 1947 by the Reverend Charles and Alberta Danner of Lincoln, Nebraska. It is CEDARS' mission is to help children who have been abused, neglected, and homeless to achieve safety, stability, and enduring family relationships. 

"We had a juvenile justice Through the Eyes of the Child team meeting last week which included a presentation by CEDARS about how this program had been going in Cass County," said Partsch. He added that they have been doing this for 1 year. "The team then agreed to seek the Commissioners' approval on using community aid grant funds to implement this truancy project immediately," said Partsch. 

The Eyes of the Child Team includes county prosecutors, public defenders, guardian ad litems, DHHS, juvenile probation, school representatives, law enforcement, service providers, and Judge O'Neal from the Otoe County Juvenile Court.

Commissioner James Parsons asked, "What is their success rate?" Partsch then replied, "It has shown some success in Cass County by working with students that are truant in the schools. They are currently working with fifteen students in Cass County. They act as truancy trackers in school to build relationships with families, provide assistance with transportation." 

Vanessa Sherman added, "We've seen an increase in truancy cases over the last few years. Some have been more challenging. Although they are not always compliant in every aspect, they are doing some of what they need to do." Sherman feels CEDARS would be great for those that need that extra support. "They are good at seeking out these families and finding extra support for them," said Sherman. 

"CEDARS will help as a mentoring program where they get to know which kids are on probation and can communicate with probation officers," said Partsch. "After the students miss 20 days of school, we tend to get a large packet in April & May. It will specify which child has had medical issues versus which children have an actual attendance problem." CEDARS has online programs & summer school sources and are able to meet with parents and students in their home. "I think its a good idea for use of those resources. Its a good step," said Commissioner Jerad Sornson. 

The approval to use community aid grant funds for the "Attendance Advocates" pilot program was then voted on and approved by the board. For more information on CEDARS you can visit or contact Vanessa Sherman at 402-969-0319.

Next Topic: Paul Southeast
The council discussed the bids for Projects C-66(557) which is P & 64 East and C-66(617) which is P & 70 East, referred to as the “Paul Southeast" projects. These projects involve the installation of two double broken-back metal pipes. Highway Superintendent, Jonathan Brinkman said, "We received 5 bids, with the lowest being from Malone construction with a bid just over $186K as the total for both projects." Commissioner Freshman said, "Malone has done work for the county in the past and has done very high-quality work for us." The council voted and awarded the bid to Malone Construction.

For more information, contact Highway Superintendent, Jonathan Brinkman at (402) 873-9585. 

Next Topic: Goosehill Bridges
Brinkman began the discussion for the bridge construction needed on Goosehill. "JEO will review the shop drawings and answer questions the county has on the project's plans," said Brinkman. "The total cost was just over 55 hundred dollars." The board then voted and approved the adoption of the resolution authorizing the Chairman to sign a task order agreement with JEO Consulting to provide preliminary engineering services for (Goosehill) Project BRO-7066(29) located on N 60th Road.

For more information, contact Highway Superintendent, Jonathan Brinkman at (402) 873-9585.

Next Topic: Heating/Cooling System for County Courthouse and Jail
After short discussion, the board voted and approved to authorize the Chairman to sign the Maintenance Agreement with Control Services Inc to continue servicing the heating/cooling system in the Courthouse and Jail Facility. Partsch stated that he currently has no recommended changes. "We've contracted with them for multiple years. They do great service work," said Comissioner Freshman.

Upon adjournment, the board of commissioners invited those attending the meeting to join them on their regular inspection of the Otoe County Jail.