VINTON — Margaret Evans, candidate for judge of Gallia County Common Pleas Court in next month’s election, outlined her experience and the programs she’s created in her time on the Gallipolis Municipal Court bench to members of the Huntington-Morgan Crime Watch at their monthly meeting Oct. 4.
“After 13 years with the municipal court, I want to take these ideas with me to common pleas court,” she said.
Changing times and issues prompted Evans to establish what she called “specialized dockets,” including a drug court to specifically deal with the growing number of drug-related activity and offenses. The court also tries to help people wanting to make a change from the drug lifestyle with referrals for treatment. Additionally, municipal court has also set aside a docket to cope with offenses arising from mental health problems.
Evans, who was appointed to fill a vacancy on the municipal bench in 2003, noted that the court functions with four probation officers who are diligent in following up with individuals who have been through her court. Grant money has helped to pay for the probation staff, she added.
The judge also explained the functions of the municipal court, which handles misdemeanor offenses, traffic cases and small claims entries seeking up to $15,000 in demand for recovery. Common pleas court handles felony crimes, larger-amount civil actions and other matters, including the probate-juvenile division.
Evans is seeking election on Nov. 8 to the open seat on the common pleas bench prompted by the retirement of D. Dean Evans, who’s been judge of that court since 2001.
In other business, Crime Watch members learned that Deputy Jeff Provens arrested an alleged theft suspect on Oct. 1 following a pursuit that ended on Ohio 325. Additionally, some vandalism in Vinton Community Park to restroom equipment was reported, as well as the discovery of a bag of drug paraphernalia. The report was given on Provens’ behalf by Vinton Mayor Josh Whealdon, who said he believes a reduction in serious incidents is attributable to the Crime Watch.
“Vinton’s not the wild, wild West anymore,” he said.
President Brandi Whealdon said Crime Watch signs are being distributed in Vinton and in the townships. Huntington Township resident George Twyman noted that a number of older Crime Watch signs remain along roadsides in the area, installed when the previous Crime Watch was created in the 1990s.
Crime Watch will meet again Nov. 1 at 6:30 p.m. in Vinton Village Hall. In keeping with the group’s focus on candidates seeking justice and law enforcement offices in Gallia, the scheduled speakers are William S. Medley, who’s opposing Margaret Evans for the judge’s seat, and Gallia County Prosecuting Attorney Jeff Adkins.