The Bogart Family Protection Center, a facility vital in the criminal investigations into sexual assaults and crimes against children, was dedicated Thursday in downtown Bogart.
The Oconee County facility is operated by SANE Inc., the Sexual Assault Nursing Program, that was first established in Athens in 1995.
"We now serve over 13 counties in northeast Georgia and today I'm pleased to tell you we're opening our third center," said SANE Executive Director Michelle Dickens, who also resides in Oconee County. The original facility is in Athens, while another protection center is in Morgan County.
Passing of a legend:Athens fixture William 'Ort' Carlton, sage of music, beer, post offices, dies at 73
Oconee Blotter: Deputy saves life of man, who demands return of illegal drugs
SANE hosted a ribbon cutting for the event that drew numerous elected officials, law enforcement officers and community leaders to the Bogart location. Oconee County Sheriff James Hale, along with former sheriff Scott Berry and Watkinsville Police Chief Shannon Brock, were in attendance.
"This is a great partnership," Hale said shortly before a ribbon cutting. "We've been working on this for a long time and when I say we, I'm talking about Michelle and Capt. Vic Green. This relationship has been built for many years and Sheriff Berry started it for us many years ago."
SANE, a nonprofit agency, provides forensic examinations and evidence collection during the investigations of rape, sexual and physical assault cases and child abuse and neglect.
The Bogart facility is available for law enforcement on a 24-hour basis for its nurses, victim advocates and forensic interviewers, according to Dickens.
The facility was established, not because there is a critical rise in sexual assault cases in Oconee County, but because it was a service that was needed locally, according to Green.
Prior to this facility, Oconee law enforcement would conduct forensic interviews at their office, then transport victims to Clarke County for the physical exams, Green said.
"For a traumatic event like that we thought it was bit much. We thought we could do better if we had a facility here where we could take care of everything," said Green, who supervises criminal investigations for the sheriff's office.
"A facility like this has been on my mind for almost three years," Green said. "We started looking for buildings, houses, and any kind of office space we could use for a facility like this."
Green said he and Dickens made contact with David Kilpatrick, a member of the Bogart City Council and Kilpatrick suggested the Bogart building.
The town's mayor, Janet Jones, then offered her full support for the center, according to Green.
The building, one of the older structures in downtown Bogart, needed new plumbing, flooring and other physical improvements before it could serve its purpose, according to Dickens, who said that Mark Jennings of Athens Construction Group donated much of the work and materials.
"We didn't expect him to donate everything, but he wanted to do the whole thing. It's been a real blessing what he did," Green said.
"Everything here was pretty much donated either by those in the community or medical centers," he said.
This article originally appeared on Athens Banner-Herald: Sexual Assault center in Bogart becomes third facility for SANE
cialis online writing review and editing, NREPLY