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Mount Vernon, Knox County, Ohio


Francis takes leadership role in combating neighborhood drug use

By Cheryl Splain, KnoxPages.com Reporter

MOUNT VERNON — Councilman John Francis is spearheading an effort to educate the community as well as other council members about the drug problems in the community. Referring to his pledge when he campaigned for city council, Francis said, “It's my sacred honor to do whatever I can do keep my neighbors safe.”

In conjunction with the Mount Vernon Police Department, Francis scheduled a joint training session on Saturday, Mar. 11, at 9 a.m. for council and community members. His goal is to educate neighbors who are afraid to call the police or do not understand what they can do if they see drug activity.

MVPD Capt. Scott McKnight told council during a Community and Employee Relations Committee meeting on Monday that the city has always had a drug problem, but,  “In 2016 it became progressive and we need to be more active in it.”

“[The training session] is a collaborative effort between city council, police and residents. We are a smaller community and we can do something about this,” he said.

McKnight cited several programs the MVPD initiated in 2016 to combat the drug problem:
*A drug interdiction officer who, since last October, averages between 25 and 30 arrests every month for drug-related activity
*A bike patrol consisting of six officers who will increase their patrols from one to two hours to three to fours

McKnight said that Chief Roger Monroe would like to purchase and train a drug canine in 2017. Until then, the department will continue to use the Danville Police Department's canine. Donations are being accepted to the Mount Vernon Canine Unit Fund at the Community Foundation of Mount Vernon and Knox County; all money will go toward the purchase and training of a drug canine.

New Albany's McGrath named Ohio Distinguished Young Woman 2017

MOUNT VERNON - The Distinguished Young Woman of Ohio for 2017 was selected Saturday night at The Memorial Theater following a week of rehearsals and community activities. McKenzie "Muggie" McGrath was chosen from a group of 14 high school senior girls vying for the title of DYW Ohio and the chance to represent Ohio in the national DYW scholarship program. McGrath attends New Albany High School and plans to attend The Ohio State University. Her career goals are accounting and finance.

DYW 2017 Mckenzie McGrath

McKenzie McGrath - Ohio Distinguished Young Woman Facebook page

Other winners in this year's scholarship program:

First Runner Up - Danielle Vivcharenko - Cuyahoga County

Second runner up - Cassie Battiste - Erie County

$500 Talent Award - McGrath and Savana Vaughn - Butler County

$500 interview award - Battiste and Vivcharenko

$400 Self Expression - Battiste and Vivcharenko

Spirit Winner and a $300 cash scholarship - Shannon Daley, Central Allen County

"Be Your Best Self" overall winner of a $500 cash scholarship - Maria Shappert, Pickaway County

"Be Your Best Self" finalist - Sophia Oster, Knox County

"Be Your Best Self" finalist - Hannah Dear, Licking County

Zelkowitz Communication Award - Lexi Smith, Vinton County

Overall Leadership Award - Shappert

Leadership Award finalist - Mackenzie Wade, Greater Richland County

Leadership Award finalist - Oster

Cong. Tiberi speaks to local Republicans at annual Lincoln-Reagan dinner

MOUNT VERNON - 12th District Congressman Pat Tiberi of Genoa Township was the keynote speaker at last night's Knox County Republican Party Lincoln-Reagan Dinner held at the Glenn A. Gallagher Center. Tiberi was introduced by Knox County GOP chairman Chip McConville. Tiberi was elected to Congress in 2000. He is a graduate of the Ohio State University, worked as an aide to now-governor John Kasich, and as a realtor.

Tiberi's district includes all of Delaware, Licking, and Morrow Counties and parts of Franklin, Marion, Muskingum, and Richland Counties.

Tiberi serves as chair of the Ways and Means subcommittee on health which is tasked with repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Citing the Republican majority in both houses of Congress Tiberi said, "We have an opportunity today with President Trump and Vice President Pence to not only reform our regulatory environment, but also reform our health care system and our tax code." Tiberi said, "We have a health care system that has put bureaucrats in charge. We want a patient-centered care system."

"[We] are trying to instill conservative principles, pro-growth principles, trying to grow our economy and also to, most importantly, give people the dream of dreaming big in America again," said Tiberi. 

Tiberi said President Obama signed numerous regulations in his last year in office. "[Congressman] Bob [Gibbs] and I have voted on 13 Congressional resolutions to pull back, take away, repeal Obama's regulatory resolutions over the last year," said Tiberi. "Very little credit has been given to the president who asked for this."

Tiberi at GOP dinneer 2222017

Congressman Pat Tiberi speaking to local Republicans at last night's Lincoln-Reagan dinner at the Gallagher Center - KP Photo

While Tiberi was speaking to the Knox County Republicans, constituents in his district were holding a town hall meeting at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Columbus at which a cardboard cutout of Tiberi was placed on stage, to emphasize Tiberi's absence. A petition drive is underway for Tiberi to attend a town hall meeting to discuss his vote to repeal and replace Obamacare. 

On the tax code, Tiberi said reform is needed to encourage job creation and that the current code is three times the length of The Bible. Tiberi said "We need an IRS that serves America."

Following Tiberi's remarks Republican office holders were introduced as well as local and state candidates running for office later this year and next.

Retired Common Pleas Judge Otho Eyster was announced as 2017 Republican of the year. Eyster served on the bench for over 30 years.  He was unable to attend the event.








Successful 2016 United Way campaign celebrated at annual meeting

By Marty Trese, KnoxPages.com Editor

GAMBIER - United Way of Knox County held its annual meeting in Peirce Hall at Kenyon College midday Thursday.  Top contributors were honored for their donations to the 2016 million dollar campaign.  2016 campaign chair Julie Miller, the Knox County Health Comissioner, was among those who spoke to thank the companies and individuals who made the $1,036,000 campaign successful.

Campaign highlights included a 2 year lease giveaway from a local auto dealer, poverty simuation, and the Women United fundraiser, 

Miller said, "This campaign for me was a campaign to place access to overall health resources in reach for residents of our community. The future is bright for us to become one of the healthiest communities in the state and  even in the nation." And Miller said the generosity of our community is amazing.  United Way of Knox County's vision is: is to be a connected, inclusive, responsive, community-focused innovative rural environment where residents work together and support one another.

If you donated to United way you helped 440 preschool students receive a toothbrush, toothpaste, a two-minute timer and a coloring packet that includes a 30-day calendar, so they could track how many times they brush their teeth.  Many of the students that received materials through the Shining Smile Program had never brushed their teeth before this experience. Donors also made it possible for increased mental health services to children in Danville, East Knox schools and at the Knox County Learning Center. And 43,000 free books were mailed to young children as part of the Imagination Library.

25 programs and 18 unique partner agencies receiving investment dollars from United Way in 2016 included:

  • American Red Cross of Knox County
  • Behavioral Healthcare Partners of Central Ohio
  • The Freedom Center of Knox County
  • Girl Scouts of Ohio's heartland council, Inc.
  • Interchurch social Services of Knox County
  • Kno-Ho-Co Ashland Community ACiton Commission
  • Knox County 4-H Planning
  • Knox County Head Start, Inc.
  • Muskingum Valley Council, Boy Scouts of America
  • New Directions: Domestic Abuse Shelter of Knox County
  • Ohio State Legal Services Association-Southeastern Legal Aid
  • Pathways of Central Ohio
  • Public Health Partnership of Knox County
  • The Salvation Army of Mount Vernon
  • Science Playspace Initiaitive (SPI)
  • The Winter Sanctuary
  • The Visiting Nurse Association of Mid-Ohio
  • YMCA of Mount Vernon 

The top 20 corporate contributors:

#1 Ariel Corporation = $475,000

#2 Kokosing Construction Co. = $124,554

#3 First-Knox National Bank = $75,884

#4 Kenyon College = $44,382

#5 Jeld-Wen Windows & Doors = $39,009

#6 Nationwide Insurance = $36,191

#7 Knox Community Hospital = $15,744

#8 Knox County Employees = $15,392

#9 Ohio Cumberland Gas Company = $12,000

#10 Brenneman Lumber & Kiln Drying, Inc. = $11,060

#11 Elizabeth Ring Mather & William Gwinn Mather Fund = $10,000

#12 Central Ohio Technical College = $8,525

#13 Siemens Energy = $7,995

#14 F.T. Precision = $7,252

#15 Mount Vernon City Schools Employees = $6,699

#16 State of Ohio Combined Charitable Campaign
Mount Vernon Developmental Center Employees = $5,633

#17 Knox County Farm Bureau = $5,225

#18 Colonial City Moose Lodge 2555 = $4,455

#19 Beatty B. Williams Trust = $3,535

#20 Knox County Head Start, Inc. Employees = $3,428

The United Way is run by a staff headed by Executive Director Kelly Brenneman, an Executive Committee, a Board of Directors, community investment committee, and resource development committee.

Organizations interested in applying for 2018 funding can submit an application online by March 15th at 4 p.m. Their website is uwayknox.org. 


Starr wins Humanitarian Award for The JJ Project

LA JOLLA, CA – Matt Starr, of I-CONN Video Production, has won the prestigious Distinction Humanitarian Award from The Accolade Global Film Competition and The IndieFEST Film Awards. The awards were given for Starr’s heart-felt, inspiring documentary, The JJ Project, which tells the story of how local Mount Vernon boy JJ House chased his dream to direct a musical while inspiring a community to help him get there. The JJ Project explores themes of following your dreams, overcoming disabilities, showing how the arts can enlighten communities, and creating a sustainable future for the arts through mentoring youngsters on the business side of the theatre. Leading actors for the film include JJ House, Bruce Jacklin, Mary Harris, Thor Fox, Luna Moreland, Janis Stone, and many other members of MTVarts.

“As we share this film with audiences around the country, the first thing that people say to me is ‘Wow, what a wonderful community you have,’” said Matt Starr, producer and director of The JJ Project. “What continues to amaze me is the continued inspiration that this story provides. When you watch it with a new audience, there is something new that jumps out at you.”

The goal of the Humanitarian Award is to honor filmmakers who are bringing awareness to issues of Ecological, Political, Social Justice, Health and Wellness, Animals, Wildlife, Conservation and Spiritual importance. The winners are handpicked by the judges and staff from hundreds of entries throughout the year.
In winning a Humanitarian award from Accolade, Starr and The JJ Project join the ranks of other high-profile winners of this important award such as Emmy Award winner Alfre Woodard and her documentary Soft Vengeance, Emmy winner Vic Sarin for The Boy From Geita, Letters from Generation Rx, narrated by Academy Award winner Tilda Swinton and many more.

“It takes great talent to tackle the world’s most pressing issues with film and do a great job,” said Rick Prickett, chair of The Accolade Global Film Competition and The IndieFEST Film Awards. “It takes an even greater heart.”

“We are still awaiting decisions from other film festivals around the world to see where we go from here,” Starr added. “Hopefully, we are close to distribution, which will have the impact for which we hoped. This is an important and urgent story.”

For more information about the film’s festival status and updates, visit thejjproject.org or follow along on Facebook @mtvarts.thejjproject.

JJ project Matt Bruce JJ

From Left to Right: Bruce Jacklin, Matt Starr, and JJ House - photo submitted

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