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A countywide check diversion program to be implemented

A check diversion program is being implemented in Park Rapids and Hubbard County as an educational program and a means for businesses to recover costs of insufficient and closed account checks.

Park Rapids businesses had a meeting earlier this year and expressed their frustration with the collection efforts of the previous agency and many had resorted to attempting to collect losses on their own.

Members of the Park Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Business Association have discussed other alternatives and a local check diversion program came out of those discussions.

"It would take a year or better before the files would eventually get referred to our office for prosecution," said Hubbard County Attorney Don Dearstyne said.

Dearstyne will be working with HAPA (Human Achievement Performance Academy) and the Park Rapids Police Department on this program.

The check diversion program will be used for all businesses in Hubbard County, not just in the Park Rapids city limits, Dearstyne said.

"We had been using HAPA for the juvenile diversion program and it just seemed like a good fit," he said. "We've come up with a program that we think we can run through HAPA that will be both educational but also will be a better resource for our business community with the goal of getting restitution to them and if not restitution to our office much more quickly for prosecution."

A handbook will be provided to business so they have a procedure to follow with bad checks. There is no cost to businesses. Those who end up going through the educational program will fund the check diversion program, Dearstyne said.

"We're excited about the educational piece," said Tina Peterson, executive director of HAPA. "That's why HAPA was created, to provide financial literacy. Our goal is to provide help to the community."

Her goal is to hold at least a monthly class to the entire community as well.

"So when people come to class it doesn't necessarily mean a bad check writer. We'll also refer adult shoplifters or we might get referrals from Mahube," she said. "The class will include education about the mechanics of a checking account, how to build a good relationship with the bank and how to budget your money."

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561