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Dole settles civil suits related to listeria outbreak

Sheriff’s program to check on elderly residents

The Champaign County Sheriff’s Office has started a new program to periodically visit elderly residents throughout Champaign County, with the hopes that the visits will lead to better relationships with residents and fewer scams.

Senior Watch, which is still in its earliest stages, is available to residents at no cost, Champaign County Sheriff Matt Melvin said.

For residents who enroll, their names and addresses will be entered into a database that deputies will access from a laptop in their vehicles. During their regular patrols, deputies will periodically stop by those residents’ homes, check up on them and provide assistance if needed.

The visits will be brief and unobtrusive, Melvin said. Deputies will simply explain they are stopping by as part of the Senior Watch program.

By making personal visits, Melvin said he hopes to make residents more familiar with local deputies. Doing so could lead to more tips, as well as cut down on possible scams that target the elderly. Typical scams include offering to perform construction work or some other service and then fleeing with the cash without completing the work.

“Hopefully with spring coming up, it will curb some of the senior scams,” Melvin said.

So far, no one has signed up for the program, but Melvin said the program will be promoted in local senior centers. Residents can also sign up online at the sheriff’s website, Although the program is geared toward seniors, it is available for any county resident, regardless of age.

“It’s not that much different from a vacation house check,” Melvin said.

The Urbana Police Division also offers a safety program to assist the homebound and elderly. The “Are You OK” program sends automated phone calls to residents who sign up, according to Chief Matt Lingrell of the Urbana Police Division.

If the subscriber doesn’t answer the call or the line is busy, the program will make two more automated calls. If no contact is made, a police officer will be alerted and dispatched to the home to check on the resident’s well-being. That program is also free to Urbana residents.

To sign up for the Urbana program, call 937-652-4350.

Other counties offer a similar service. Deputies in Champaign County will check on residents about every 10 to 14 days.

“Once it gets off the ground, I figure it’ll be a good thing,” Melvin said.

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