Wood Co. seeks grant to continue Williamstown school officer

PARKERSBURG – A application for a $20,000 grant to help fund continuation of the Prevention Resource Officer at Williamstown High School was approved for submission by the Wood County Commission on Monday.

The PRO officer at the school is Deputy Scott Jefferson. The program has been running for five years.

“It’s a collective effort with the grant, which funds $20,000, the board of education, which funds $13,500 and the remaining $20,997 comes from the county,” said Wood County grant coordinator Toni Tiano.

The local grant for the program has decreased since it began, starting out at $28,000, Tiano said.

“This year they told us not to ask for more than $20,000,” Tiano said.

T.R. Smith, administrative assistant for the sheriff’s office, said the grant is offered on an annual basis.

“The school not only serves the city of Williamstown, but that whole end of Wood County, so it’s important to participate, it’s a good program,” said Commissioner Blair Couch.

Jefferson has been teaching classes, having guest speakers for students and last year stopped an incident in which a student had threatened to bring guns to school, Tiano said.

“He’s a valued asset up there,” Tiano said.

Jefferson was awarded the Distinguished Service Award by the West Virginia Division of Justice and Community Service in October for his efforts. According to reports, in September Jefferson received a call from a student who stated another student had been on a private chat with another WHS student who said they were planning to take a gun to the high school the next day.

According to Jefferson, the student allegedly said he would kill about 100 people then himself. He began working on a search warrant for the juvenile’s residence. The search warrant was executed and the juvenile was taken into custody.

According to the West Virginia Division of Justice and Community Services, the P.R.O. Program provides classes on non-traditional educational topics such as juvenile law, domestic violence, underage drinking, drug and alcohol prevention, child abuse and neglect, mentors students and provides safety including recognizing potential danger, preventing violence and responding to dangerous school situations.

Through the PRO Program, certified West Virginia police officers who are also certified prevention resource officers are placed in local middle and high schools.