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CASA has grand opening of new offices at courthouse

Posted by: tdt -

By Robin Scott 

The Court Appointed Special Advocates, CASA, saw a need for more space for supervised visitation for children in the custody of Children’s Protective Services, CPS. CASA asked the ladies of Eta Upsilon Sorority to consider taking on a project to remodel space at the Dallam County Courthouse. The request included funds necessary to refurbish the space, as well as people to do all of the handy work.

Eta Upsilon agreed and began raising funds to update the space for the much needed visitation rooms for parents and family members to visit their children who are in foster care. The old jailer apartment located on the fourth floor of the courthouse was refurbished using the creative talent and funding from Eta Upsilon and the hard work of Trustees of the TDCJ Dalhart Unit. Much of the money was raised from the 2008 Tour of Homes.

Members of the sorority did much of the work. Renee Finkenbinder, Ann Claire Gustin, and Krista Turner were very involved in the project. The sorority is a non-profit organization in town to raise money for community projects. Projects have included the Tour of Homes, Golf Tournament, downtown block party, and volunteer work for the XIT Rodeo. The sorority raises about $15,000.00 each year.

Trustees from the TDCJ Dalhart Unit assisted in redoing the floors, the woodwork, retiling the bathroom and painting. The sorority members hung the new wooden blinds. The new two-way window and the blinds were the greatest costs of the project. The room will also be available for court cases that involve children. The children will stay in the new facility to play and have a safe place that isn’t as serious and scary as the courtroom. Prior to the new facility, the children only had a small space between their desks. Parents visiting with their children had to use that small space.

Judge David Field gave the okay to use the area on the third floor of the courthouse which was once the jailer’s apartment. Ms. Finkenbinder stated, "Ann Bookout asked the Judge and then she asked us if we could manage the remodel of the area and the work. We began at the end of November, 2007. The delay was due to not having anyone able to bring the Trustees out to do the work. Once they became available, they came out and did the work. They began in September, 2008 and worked for a couple of months. Our sorority made lunches for them and brought Cokes. They always seemed to enjoy that."

Joyce Ortiz with Children’s Protective Services stated, "12 children are currently in the supervised visitation program with CPS and in foster care in Dalhart. Children who have been removed from their home can come here for visitation with their parents and grandparents. The new center replaces having the children visit with their family members in the cramped space at the CPS office." The CPS office is located 412 Denver and will remain there, but the visitation with the children will change. Dustin Cathy has supervised two visits at the new location and soon the remainder of the children will begin to come through the visitation center.

Also in attendance were Judge David Field and wife, Carolyn Field, who is the Principal of the XIT school. Judge Field commented, "The Commissioners Court gave the approval to use the space. It hadn’t been used in well over 20 years, so it was really in disrepair. We’ve never found anybody that wanted to use the space, and when they came and asked for it, we thought it would be a great use. We are glad to have them here."

Left Photo by Susan Clay: Some of the wall art in the newly decorated CASA rooms.














Right Photo by Susan Clay: Rene´ talked about CASA to Texan reporter Robin Scott.

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