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Mount Vernon, Knox County, Ohio


New Knox County Health Center commended by Ohio House


MOUNT VERNON - State Representative Rick Carfagna presented the Knox County Health Department with a commendation from the Ohio House on Friday recognizing the department's new community health center.

The Knox County Community Health Center opened a few weeks ago thanks to a two-year $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. The center offers medical, dental, behavioral health and addiction services regardless of a patient's payer source, charges are on a sliding scale. Lane Belangia serves as the center's CEO.

Community health centers have been recognized for improving patient outcomes for a population that is often sicker and more at risk than the general population.

Knox County was identified as medically underserved area in 2015 and has been identified as a shortage area for dentists for more than 10 years.

 Carfagna also heard updates from health department personnel on tobacco cessation efforts, KSAAT's focus on youth substance abuse prevention through a Drug Free Communities Grant, and mandated environmental health services.

Carfagna was asked about the state budget for the next biennium which is being crafted in Columbus. The $68 billion spending plan includes just $40 million restored to the state's 600 school districts. Carfagna says most notable in the proposed budget from the House is new money, $170 million, towards the opiate epidemic in the state which Carfagna described as "terribly unfortunate." He said the state needs to be incarcerating those who are perpetuating the problem  and treating those who are addicted.

Carfagna says the state's next spending plan calls for a 1.5% reduction (corrected amount fromm an earlier KP story) across most agencies and a 6% cut to the House of Represnentatives overall budget.

Carfagna represents the 68th Ohio House District which includes all of Knox County and part of Delaware County.

Health Dept. center proclamation

Knox County Health Commissioner Julie Miller, left, Knox County Community Health Center CEO Lane Belangia, center, and State Representative Rick Carfagna as the new health center received a commendation from the Ohio House of Representatives. KnoxPages.com photo by Marty Trese.

Shannon Kitts sentenced on heroin trafficking charges

MOUNT VERNON - A local woman accused of dealing heroin in a house on East Sugar Street earlier this year pleaded guilty and will now spend the next 5 years behind bars. Knox County Common Pleas Court Judge Richard Wetzel sentenced Shannon Kitts, 38, to 71 months on Friday.

In January MVPD investigated a a nuisance complaint at 204 East Sugar Street. The complaint alleged that the owner, Phillippe Lesage and two tenants, Kitts and Raymond Leroy Williams had knowledge of or allowed illegal felony drug offenses to occur on the property. Officers executed a search warrant and then arrested Kitts. At that time she was charged with permitting drug abuse. The trafficking charge was filed later.

Shannon Kitts jail photo

Shannon Kitts - Knox County Jail photo

The East Sugar Street property had been the focus of many citizen complaints and law enforcement call-outs since August of 2016, according to Knox County Prosecutor Chip McConville. According to 911 call records, four drug overdoses were reported at the house since August, with two occurring on January 5, 2017. Law enforcement also had evidence of a series of illegal drug transactions taking place at the property. Wooden boards have now been placed on the windows at that address.

In January McConville said, “This house has become notorious for drug activity in recent months, and the neighbors are concerned about their safety,” McConville said. “This legal action is designed to get the landlord to put a stop to the illegal activity on his property.” 

On Friday, Kitts' charge of permitting drug abuse was dismissed. She is still charged with drug possession by Franklin County according to the Knox County jail website.

Lesage is currrently facing an unrelated complicty charge in Mount Vernon Municipal court. 






Local People: 18 year old's service project brings hope and happiness

MOUNT VERNON – Sometimes all it takes is one idea, one spark of inspiration and the vision of someone who cares to bring a community together to help those in need.

In this case, the vision of David Daniels, 18, of Butler, coupled with the generous spirit of Knox County citizens, brought to fruition a service project creating comfort care packs for children in foster care.

The inspiration for this project came to Daniels after watching a YouTube video about a former foster child who described what it was like to be have all of his belongings placed in a trashcan to take with him to his foster home. Many years later, this former foster child became a foster parent and was surprised to see children still carrying their belongings in trash bags. This inspired the man to create comfort cases – backpacks or duffel bags with toothbrushes, shampoo, books, journals, or stuffed animals.

A senior at the Knox County Career Center, Daniels is a member of the National Honor Society at Fredericktown High School. As a member, he is required to organize and oversee a community service project. After seeing the video online, Daniels wondered if there was a need for comfort care packs for youths in Knox County. After reaching out to Kristin Seveigny, Foster/Adopt Coordinator with the Knox County Department of Job & Family Services, Daniels was assured that the agency could benefit from such a project and he set about collecting all he could to assemble the packs.

Fredericktown boy foster help

David Daniels, left, recently collected comfort care items including backpacks filled with blankets, journals and personal care items, for foster children in the care of the Knox County Department of Job & Family Services. Accepting the items on behalf of KCDJFS, is Kristin Seveigny, right, Foster/Adopt Coordinator for the agency. (Photo submitted)

Starting with his home high school, he arranged a contest during the month of March to have items donated by students, faculty and staff. A box was placed in each homeroom, and the homeroom with the most donations received a doughnut party. Next, Daniels contacted Fin, Feather, Fur Outfitters and Kokosing Construction, which generously donated backpacks and other goods toward the cause.

He posted a flier about the comfort cases on Facebook and the community really stepped up to help with donations. One person collected items at her Thirty-One party and another allowed Daniels to set up a table at the Nick Gaumer 5K. That’s not to mention all the donations from friends, family and his 4-H Club – Redbrush.

After March, Daniels figured out what was still needed to complete the comfort cases, and the National Honor Society purchased those things with the money he collected.

In all, Daniels was able to fill over 70 backpacks and 10 diaper bags. Three carloads of items, including the backpacks, pack-n-plays, books, toys and other items were recently delivered to Knox County Children Services.

“David’s ability to transform a post that he saw on social media into a widespread benefit for our foster children is as generous as it is remarkable,” said Scott Boone, Knox County Children Services Administrator. “His efforts afford us the ability to provide our kids with kindhearted gifts and essentials that they can call their own.”

The son of Chris and Laura Daniels, David is active not only in his 4-H Club, for which he is president, he is also Pork Ambassador for Knox County, runs cross country and track at Fredericktown High School, and is a camp counselor. He is planning to attend Ohio University in the fall, studying mechanical engineering.

When asked what he hoped would be the outcome of his project, Daniels simply said, “To help the kids.” And, indeed he will.


Daniels runs out of patience on old middle/high school

By Cheryl Splain, KnoxPages.com Reporter

MOUNT VERNON — Saying he has run out of patience, Safety-service Director Joel Daniels is initiating action on the problem of the old high school at 301 N. Mulberry St.

The owner, Jason Gunsorek, owes over $13,000 in taxes on the property. Daniels said that when he discovered how far behind Gunsorek is in paying taxes, he went to Mayor Richard Mavis and said something has to be done.

"I am going to have Greg Bemiller, [property maintenance enforcement officer] take pictures of the property. We will then take them to our property appeals board and request they give it a label of condemned building,” Daniels told KnoxPages.com on Thursday. Daniels is concerned about the safety of the building, people illegally entering it and the lack of ability to secure it. “It's just one of those messy problems we can't solve,” he said.

Additionally, Daniels said he left a message with Chip McConville, Knox County prosecutor, on Wednesday. “He's the one who initiates foreclosure action,” explained Daniels.

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Old Mount Vernon Middle School on North Mulberry Street - KP file photo

Foreclosure and condemnation plans are still in the preliminary stages. “I just started the ball rolling on this yesterday,” said Daniels. “I'll talk with the mayor and we'll form a task force and formulate a plan on how to approach it.

“The owners live in the Columbus area,” he continued. “They have had communications with us and tell us what we want to hear, but we don't see much action. It has to be dealt with.”

The Board of Education for Mount Vernon City Schools initially sold the property in 1998. Since then, a series of owners has promised to rehab the building but none have followed through. Daniels said that in addition to being a safety issue, the building has dragged down property values in the neighborhood.

Trump tax reform plans unveiled

WASHINGTON -  President Donald Trump's plan to overhaul the U.S. tax code was released Wednesday.

The one-page proposal outlined by the Trump administration has something for everyone - massive tax cuts for businesses and a bigger standard tax deduction for middle-income families, lower investment taxes for the wealthy, and an end to the federal estate tax for the super rich.

The Associated Press reports the changes to the tax code are the most concrete guidance so far on Trump's vision for spurring job growth and fulfilling his promise to help workers who have been left behind by an increasingly globalized economy.

"He understands that there are a lot people who work hard and feel like they're not getting ahead," said Gary Cohn, director of the White House National Economic Council.

Critics say the president's proposal lacks the hard details about making the tax code simpler and more efficient in ways that don't add to the federal government's mounting debt. These are key Republican goals that would require lawmakers to eliminate or reduce precious tax breaks enjoyed by millions of Americans.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin joined "CBS This Morning" Thursday to discuss the tax plan.

"This is about the most sweeping, biggest tax cuts and sweeping tax reform in history. And the president is focused on creating economic growth. This is all about economic growth and American jobs. And that's is what the president is committed to," said Mnuchin. He continued, "In regards to the pay for, I don't know how people can estimate the cost since we don't haven't released all the details, but this is going to be paid for by economic growth and by a reduction of many, many deductions in special interest."

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) said he needs to see more details on the tax plan, but he is supportive of cuts for child care, workers and small businesses. At the same time, Brown warned against cuts for multi-billion dollar corporations and pass-through business entities, which are estimated to add at least $3 trillion to the deficit at a time when President Trump has yet to follow through on the $1 trillion investment in infrastructure he promised.

“I want to cut taxes for working people and small businesses, not give handouts to multi-billion dollar corporations and their CEOs,” Brown said. “Instead of blowing holes in the deficit, we should be closing corporate loopholes and putting Americans back to work by investing in rebuilding our roads and bridges.”

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