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Wallace named DHR director

The board of directors of the Marengo County Department of Human Resources this week appointed Ellen Wallace as its director, effective Dec. 1.

Wallace will succeed John Marler, who served as the agency’s director for more than 20 years and retired on Sept. 30.

“DHR covers many programs,” Wallace said. “For instance, there are 22 children in foster care, and we are trying to reunite them with families, of course, and provide whatever services are necessary to protect those children.”

Wallace mentioned that DHR would have an orientation class starting in January called “Group Preparation and Selection,” or GPS.

“This is a required 10-week course for anyone who is interested in being a foster parent or adoptive parent,” she said. “This lets everybody know what is required there. If anyone is interested in this class, they can contact our office. We always need foster homes.”

Wallace said the overall purpose for the department is to provide self-sufficiency for adults and children.

Wallace supervised the county’s food stamp program for 24 years, saying that last month, 4,194 people in Marengo County participated in the food stamp program, and the direct benefits totaled more than $400,000 for that month.

“We provide a very necessary service,” she said, “and right now, our cash flow is increasing because people are worried about the future.

“We also have the TANF program, which stands for ‘temporary assistance for needy families.’ It’s a small check on a temporary basis for people who may be between jobs or may be disabled but with children or whatever reason they need help. A component of that program is a required participation in our jobs program.

“That program does whatever is needed to get that person a job and be able to keep it,” she said. “There are so many barriers to working in rural areas. If you live out it the county, transportation can be a barrier. If you have small children, child care can be a barrier. There are so many things that we don’t think about that keep people from being able to work.”

Wallace added that there are employer benefits to hiring people referred by her department. On May 25, 2007, President George W. Bush signed the Small Business and Work Opportunity Tax Act of 2007, which make it easier for the business sector to participate in the Work Opportunity Tax Credit program.

Through the Work Opportunity Tax Act, credits for businesses can be as much as $2,400 for each new adult hire, $1,200 for each summer youth hire, $4,800 for each new disabled veteran hire and $9,000 for each new long-term TANF recipient hired over a two-year period.

DHR also runs “Project: Merry Christmas,” which helped nearly 800 children last year. Wallace said that people who want to participate can choose a child from the department wish list and buy presents for that child or donate money through the department so it can issue vouchers to allow needy families to go shopping.

Wallace, a native of Linden, attended Linden High School and Marengo Academy. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of West Alabama in business administration and her master’s degree in social work from the University of Alabama.

Anyone interested in participating in any of the programs provided by the Marengo County Department of Human Resources may visit its office at 701 S. Shiloh St. in Linden or call 295-2000.