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County calls to end domestic violence

Another step was taken to end domestic violence in Douglas County.

At last Tuesday's Douglas County Board meeting, Chuck Nettestad, along with several other members of the United Communities Advocating Non-Violence (U-CAN) committee, presented the county commissioners with a resolution calling for a comprehensive strategy to prevent domestic violence.

This is the first resolution of its kind to be presented to a county board in the state of Minnesota.

The resolution uses the six levels of the Spectrum of Prevention as a tool to further the goals of the initiative. The six levels include:

•Strengthening individual knowledge and skills.

•Promoting community education.

•Educating providers.

•Fostering coalitions and networks.

•Changing organizational practices.

•Influencing policy and legislation.

As part of the resolution, the county commissioners directed the county coordinator to develop specific action steps for each of the levels of the spectrum and report back to the board in six months.

One of the goals of the resolution is to have the county "be committed to stopping domestic violence and ensuring a healthy environment for all people in which they can grow and develop free from social and environmental influences that increase domestic violence," as stated in the resolution.

Chuck Derry, who is a co-founder of the Minnesota Men's Action Network: Alliance to Prevent Sexual and Domestic Violence, and who works with the U-CAN committee, talked with the newspaper after the meeting, stating that this resolution will probably become a model for other counties around the state.

He noted that there are similar resolutions in Ramsey and Olmstead counties, but that this is the first of its kind to be adopted by a county board.

Derry said the Alexandria area has a strong history of fighting domestic violence and that it has been a pleasure working with the U-CAN committee.

"This resolution goes to show that this area is not going to tolerate domestic violence," he said.

According to statistics from Someplace Safe and Wings Family Supportive Services, there were 307 adult domestic violence victims and 402 child domestic violence victims, along with many family members and friends of victims of domestic violence who were served in Douglas County in 2008.

Susan Keehn, a member of the U-CAN committee and an advocate at Someplace Safe, said, "Sometimes the number of victims can be overwhelming and you can hear people in the community say this is just the way it is, but domestic violence is preventable."

Rick Colden, current president of U-CAN and plant engineer at Alexandria Extrusion, noted that the county board took a historic step by adopting the resolution.

"It's the first time in the state where a county board passed a resolution instructing the county coordinator to develop a plan to prevent domestic violence.

"The U-CAN committee will be available to the county to assist in any way we can in the development and implementation of the county plan," Colden concluded.