The Greene County Family Justice Center on East Pythian Street. (Photo by Rance Burger)

Work is underway to preserve a building where some of Greene County’s most vulnerable residents go for help.

The Greene County Family Justice Center provides services for persons impacted by domestic violence. Its clientele are victims of domestic violence, rape and sexual assault, elder or dependent adult abuse, human trafficking and other crimes that may involve a domestic partner. It has public agencies and private partner groups working to help people in the same building.

Water infiltration led the Greene County Commission to authorize up to $700,000 in spending through the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) for repairs at the Family Justice Center. The aid money relieves a stress point for the Family Justice Center. Earlier this year, the staff experienced sticker shock when reviewing bids for necessary repairs amid soaring construction costs.

Why care?

The Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence reports that in 2020, 3,926 individuals received domestic violence services in 26 counties in Southwest Missouri, and 4,877 requests were unmet as agencies lacked resources. 

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 41.8 percent of Missouri women and 35.2 percent of Missouri men experience intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner sexual violence and/or intimate partner stalking in their lifetimes.

With a 2-0 vote on July 7, the Greene County Commission entered into a $592,200 agreement with Rio Contracting.

“Rio comes highly recommended based on past experience during the renovation of the third floor courtrooms,” buyer Laura Merriman of the Greene County Purchasing Department said. “Also, the budget for this project was $700,000, so they are well under budget, so there will be remaining monies for mold mitigation, which they anticipate being a problem, too.”

Greene County Director of Resource Management Kevin Barnes said the start of July marked the start of a roofing project at the Family Justice Center.

“Work on the roof began this week,” Barnes said. “That project is hopefully going to wrap up this year and put that building into much better shape.”

The Greene County Family Justice Center was established in October 2018. That year, the Family Justice Center had 11 staff members working from an open office on the second floor of the Greene County Courthouse on Boonville Avenue. It now has a staff of about 35 people, and operates from the building that was once the Tefft School on East Pythian Street. The building was constructed in 1914 and shows signs of its age.

Project manager Rob Rigdon said the roofing contractor should be done in August, and work on the bricks, windows and interior walls specified in the contract with Rio might be done by the end of 2022.

Rigdon said the base bid was $219,000, but the contract has three major add-ons that were bid as architects with Paragon Architecture discovered the true source of water seepage and the resulting mold.

“The base bid was the tuckpointing portion,” Rigdon said. “We found that the tuckpointing was not so much the culprit of the water as the windows.”

Replacing all of the windows will cost $347,800.

“We still have to bid out the mold remediation, which will not be performed until everything is sealed on the outside,” Rigdon said.

The Tefft Elementary School building was constructed in 1914. In 2018, Springfield Public Schools sold the building to Greene County for $10. (Photo by Rance Burger)

The services at the Family Justice Center include crisis intervention, assistance in obtaining ex parte orders of protection, emergency shelter access, basic legal representation in divorce and custody cases where protection orders are involved, assistance in filing police reports, counseling, assistance with Missouri HealthNet (Medicaid) and aid programs, protective services for children and assistance with child support orders.

On-site partners at the Greene County Family Justice Center include Harmony House, the Victim Center, Legal Services of Southern Missouri, the Greene County Children’s Division, the Springfield Police Department, the Greene County Sheriff’s Office, Burrell Behavioral Health, the Child Support Office of the Missouri Family Support Division and the Greene County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.


How to get help

Information provided by the Springfield Police Department

24-hour hotlines

Harmony House: (417) 864-7233 or 800-831-6863

The Victim Center Crisis Response Line: (417) 864-7233

Greene County Family Justice Center – (417) 799-1500 – houses several agencies throughout the community under one roof (Harmony House, The Victim Center, Legal Services of Southern Missouri, Greene County Children’s Division, Greene County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, Springfield Police Department, Greene County Sheriff’s Office and Child Support Division) and acts as a sort of middle man between victims and community resources. All services are free and confidential.

Harmony House –  (417) 837-7700 – The mission of Harmony House is to provide shelter, advocacy and education to survivors of domestic violence and promote the principle that all individuals have the right to a life free of abuse. Some services provided include support groups, life skills, parenting and relationship classes and legal advocacy. All services are free and confidential.

The Victim Center  – (417) 863-7273  – provides free-of-charge services to all victims of violent or sexual crimes. Provides prevention education, 24-hour crisis response line, counseling and victim advocacy.

If you have any questions please call Springfield Police Department Headquarters at (417) 864-1810.


Rance Burger

Rance Burger covers local government for the Daily Citizen. His goal is to help people know more about what projects their government is involved in, and how their tax dollars are being spent. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia with 15 years experience in journalism. Reach him at rburger@sgfcitizen.org or by calling 417-837-3669. Twitter: @RanceBurger More by Rance Burger