Sarah's House proceeding with expansion plans

Plans are in the works for a new 4,000-square-foot, two-story building that will more than double the size of Sarah's House, the county-operated resource center for victims of crime and circumstance.

The facility will be built at 1770 Airway Ave.

between the Kathryn Heidenreich Adult Center and Smith's Food and Drug Center.

"This dream is finally becoming a reality," said Sarah's House director, Sheila King.

"We hope to break ground this year."

Sarah's House is presently located in a 1,500-square-foot building at 2800 Andy Devine Ave.

The facility has offices, a children's waiting room, two interview rooms and a medical examination room for sexual assault and molestation victims

Also on the premises are offices of the Mohave County Victim/Witness Program, which has victims' services such as orders of protection and restitution/compensation, and notification of court dates.

Operating expenses for Sarah's House and the Victim/Witness Program come from the Mohave County Attorney's Office.

King, a former social worker, said the present facility is too small to handle the number of victims who walk through the doors, including victims of circumstances such as fire.

The size of the building - which the county rents on a monthly basis - was adequate to begin with, but the needs of the center have changed, King said.

"We are busier than ever.

As the town grows so do the number of victims, unfortunately," she added.

The Mohave County Board of Supervisor voted to give Sarah's House the county-owned land for a new building late last year.

In addition, $112,000 was raised through events such as a golf tournament and a dinner/auction.

A steel structure will be purchased from the company Steel Erection at a discount.

BetNor, a local firm, will do the construction work.

"It is by far the cheapest way to build a house," King said.

"The new building will look just like a house with brick or stucco over the steel.

That will be decided later."

King said people willing to donate plumbing, concrete and landscaping services have contacted her.

The project will go before Mohave County Planning and Zoning Commission next month.

The new facility will have a training room for advocates and nurses, a conference room, two interview rooms, an examination room, two bathrooms, a kitchen, a room for recording interviews and two Sarah's House offices.

The Victim/Witness Program offices will be upstairs.

Currently, county hospitals refer victims of sexual assault to Sarah's House for follow-up exams, or an on-call nurse goes to the victim's home, King said.

The center needs more nurses for these exams.

A training program will be held in July, King said.

A resource center for victims of crime and circumstance, the Kingman Alliance Victim Center was named Sarah's House in memory of Sarah Milam, who was murdered Sept.

21, 1990, just thirty-eight days before her first birthday.

The center is a community effort.

The Mohave County Victim/Witness Program provides crisis intervention, crisis counseling and victims' rights information.

The Mohave County Sheriff's Office, the Kingman Police Department and the Arizona Department of Public Safety provide trained professionals who conduct interviews with victims and witnesses.

Child Protective Services provides an investigator to work with children and their families concerning abuse and/or neglect and assist officers in the interview process.

Adult Protective Services provides an investigator to work with senior citizens or disabled adults concerning abuse.

Sarah's House will get a little help from friends - "Friends of Sarah's House Foundation," to be exact.

The auxiliary arm of Sarah's House Foundation - organized to enable people to join the auxiliary as members - will continue to raise money for the new facility, King said.

One of the first of its kind in rural Arizona, King said Sarah's House is important to the community.

Several employees, including King, work at the center, along with one part-time receptionist and one part-time volunteer.

In addition, volunteer crises advocates respond to calls from law enforcement and fire departments concerning victims.