Commissioners OK extension of STOP Violence Against Women grant

County commissioners approved a no-cost extension to the 2015 STOP Violence Against Women grant, extending the projected end date from the close of the year to April 30, 2016.

The Services, Training, Officers and Prosecutors grant partly funded the position formerly held by Assistant District Attorney Lisa Galanis, STOP grant coordinator Dawn McKee said. With Galanis’ resignation, an extension of the grant will allow for the time needed to hire a new ADA and fund that individual’s salary.

The STOP grant is a federal grant administered through the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Deliquency, McKee said. The grant funds three components: victims’ services, which is offered through the Centre County Women’s Resource Center; law enforcement, funding the position held by State College police Detective Chris Weaver; and prosecution, funding a position that specializes in handling domestic violence and child abuse cases.

McKee also highlighted the Remember My Name vigil scheduled for noon Wednesday outside the Centre County Courthouse.

“It’s important that we stand up and say enough,” she said. “We as a community — not just law enforcement and the Women’s Resource Center, but everyone — needs to figure out how we can increase safety for victims and hold offenders accountable for what they do.”

A number of speakers are expected to attend, she said, with a roll call of all the names of the people killed in 2014 as a result of domestic violence.

The event will also recognize two recent Centre County deaths, she said. It will honor Nuria Kudlach and Natalya Podnebennaya, who both lost their lives to domestic violence.

“We know in the most recent fatality, (Podnebennaya) did everything she could to stay safe,” McKee said, “but still ended up being killed.”

The event will also honor probation officer Kyle Jordan and STOP grant international outreach consultant Debra Greenleaf for their work in the field of domestic violence, she said.

McKee encouraged everyone who wants to attend to wear purple, the official color of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.