PAW PAW — A Van Buren County organization that fights domestic abuse will soon open an office in Covert.

“On Jan. 1 we’ll have an office in the Covert Township Police Department,” Melanie Hooker, executive director of the Van Buren County Domestic Violence Coalition, told county commissioners Tuesday. There will also be a Spanish-speaking person available there.

Hooker’s announcement came during the report on the Paw Paw-based organization’s 2018-19 activities. During the period of Oct. 1, 2018 to Sept. 30, 2019, there were 410 new clients, according to the written portion of the report. Of those 345 were women and 65 were men. The largest number of clients, 154, were between 26 and 40 years of age. They were of all ethnicities, with 350 of them being white.

Of those who gave an address, 74 were from the Paw Paw area, 51 from South Haven, 32 from Bangor, 31 from Lawton, 30 from Hartford, 24 from Decatur, and 23 from Mattawan. Two were homeless, one from Chicago and 19 were from Kalamazoo, the same number as from Gobles. Also, there were 17 from Grand Junction, 16 from Lawrence, with the remaining communities showing single digits, including South Bend and Zeeland.

Forty-one people did not give an address.

The organization conducted 788 visits over the year, referred nine people to housing, provided 833 hours of counseling and requested 151 personal protection orders.

Along with domestic abuse services, the organization also provides services to victims of sexual violence.

The coalition works with the courts to help oversee the Batterer’s Intervention program.

“We’re trying to give them tools to get them to do something other than hit,” Hooker said. The program does more than just deal with anger management, she said.

Besides accepting the report, commissioners also decided to again chip in $25,000 for funding. The coalition’s total budget is $205,225, mostly paid by domestic violence grants.

Old cell door locks

In other matters, commissioners contracted with Stronghold Industries, of Racine, Wis., to replace locks in cells 1-8 in the jail for $38,400.

Jail Lt. Manny DeLaRosa told commissioners those locks may be original with the building. “They’re no longer being manufactured,” DeLaRosa said. And they’re badly worn.

Last year, DeLaRosa said, an aggressive inmate kicked a cell door and it popped open.

The project is more than simply exchanging locks. It’ll be a complete overhaul of those cell doors. “We’re going to have to do a lot of cutting on the doors,” DeLaRosa said.