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Posted on: June 2, 2016

Westmoreland County’s Child Government Day Held May 27th

On May 27, Westmoreland County celebrated Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day by opening the doors to the Courthouse for Child Government Day (CGD). The annual event was attended by fourth- through eighth-grade students whose parents work in departments throughout the county, giving them a taste of what it’s like for their moms and dads to serve our fellow community members each day. CGD has been a tradition since the early 90s, when then Media Relations personnel Myrna McCloskey and Al Detorre inaugurated the first celebration.

The morning was kicked off by County commissioners Gina Cerilli, Ted Kopas and Charles W. Anderson, joined by Commissioner Cerilli’s “dog-ter” Zoe Meatball. Following remarks by the Commissioners, the students split into two groups and rotated through a variety of activities and presentations, led by CGD coordinator and Chief Clerk Vera Spina, assisted by Assistant Chief Clerk Melissa Brown.

The “rules of the road” were provided by Park Police Chief Kirk Nolan. Throughout the morning, the students were given the opportunity to ask questions of county staff and elected officials in hopes of inspiring the future leaders to become good citizens and, perhaps, follow in their parents’ footsteps.

Deputy Sheriff Jason Grecco and K9 Officer Diesel, a German shepherd/Belgian Malinois mix, demonstrated how they work as a team to search for illegal drugs. Sergeant Jennifer Maruca and fellow deputies has some fun with students while making a lasting impression, locking them in holding cells to see what it feels like to suffer the consequences of bad decisions.

New this year, the Public Safety Department sent HAZMAT Team 800 to CGD to demonstrate how they work in cumbersome HAZMAT suits when emergency conditions such as fire, chemical, radiological and/or biological incidents require it. The students had the chance to explore the HAZMAT rescue vehicle.

Deputy Coroners Josh Zappone and Doug Lewis put the students through a role play investigation in which they got a chance to practice skills of observation and analysis. This interactive session is always a hit at CGD.

After lunch with their parents, the students moved to the courtrooms of Judge Feliciani and Judge Bononi. Both groups had the chance to learn firsthand about the important roles our judges, prosecutors, public defenders, Sheriff’s deputies, court reporters, and other court staffs play in upholding the law and resolving disputes in a fair and rational manner.

Following the mock trials, the students heard from County Detective Tony Marcocci and Drug Overdose Task Force Director Tim Phillips, as well as panel member volunteers from the recovery community. The presentation was serious in tone, but the important message to stay drug free was delivered on the students’ level.

Finally, we said farewell to our future leaders with a gift of a Child Government Day tote bag that included cookies donated by Chick-fi-A, and the coveted chocolate Courthouse dome made by local chocolatier Wilson’s Candy Company of Jeannette. It was a great pleasure hosting this engaged and very well-mannered group of students, and we look forward to seeing many of them again next year.

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