POOLER, Ga. (WSAV) – Chatham County has one of the highest numbers of human trafficking cases in the state of Georgia. With Pooler being a hot spot for its location, the city council is spreading awareness through its latest proclamation.

At last week’s city council meeting, Pooler City Councilwoman Karen Williams submitted the proclamation declaring January Human Trafficking Prevention Month.

“There is sex trafficking in Pooler,” says Williams, “It’s like a dirty word. Nobody wants to hear it, but it’s there.”

She says what the city needs more now than ever is awareness, as Chatham County is rated 7th in the state for sex trafficking in children ages 11 to 17.

She says Pooler is a hot spot thanks to its location, landlocked by two major highways, Interstates 16 and 95.

“There is sex trafficking everywhere. You don’t have to live by an interstate, but we do. We have two busy interstates,” says Williams.

There are only 55 beds to house the high volume of victims, though, and that’s where Tharros Place comes in, a non-profit organization Williams and the city council are supporting.

Julie Wade is Tharros Place’s executive director.

“We’re under contract to purchase a facility in Pooler,” says Wade, “It will be an undisclosed location to protect the confidentiality of the girls.”

Slated to open this summer, it can house 12 girls ages 11 to 17. The facility will partner with the Georgia court system to find and house girls.

“In our community, we’ve been talking about the need for this facility for years. The closest facility is 90 minutes away. I’m really excited to be getting it off the ground,” she adds.

In addition to spreading awareness about Tharros Place, Councilwoman Williams hopes even more human trafficking prevention resources will come to Pooler.

“I hope that we can have more classes, and town halls, and have a specialist that can come in to give us training. I’ve been to a training class on, and it’s a lot to learn,” says Williams.