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Mount Vernon, Knox County, Ohio


County to seek funds for mandated mental health assessments

By Cheryl Splain, KnoxPages.com Reporter

MOUNT VERNON — Payment for a service that used to be covered will now become the responsibility of the county. Knox County Sheriff David Shaffer told the county commissioners on Thursday that mandated mental health assessments for inmates who are sentenced to 14 or more days of jail time will no longer be covered by a grant through Behavioral Health Partners.

Shaffer said that his office will either have to contract with BHP for 15 to 20 hours a week for the assessments, which would cost around $339, or hire his own personnel. From November 2016 through May 2017, the BHP counselor working in the jail completed 216 14-day assessments totaling $30,240.

Shaffer said that he has talked with the superintendents of East Knox and Centerburg school districts regarding a school resource officer. "Both schools seem to be on board with it," he said. The plan is to split the SRO's time between the two schools.

In the area of cash flow, Capt. Jay Sheffer told the commissioners that CORSA (County Risk Sharing Authority, a liability risk-sharing group through the County Commissioners Association of Ohio) will reimburse the county for some officer training programs up to a maximum of $2,800. Each training program costs around $475.

Shaffer said the security system upgrade is almost complete and has gone well.

The current jail population is 75. The 62 males include two federal prisoners and five from Lawrence County. Thirteen are female.

The meeting adjourned into executive session to discuss security issues.


Black Bear sightings expected to increase in Ohio during summer months


COLUMBUS – Approximately 70 or so different black bears are reported annually in the Buckeye State according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). While the population of Ohio’s largest mammal may not exactly increase in 2017, sightings of black bears are expected to rise in the summer months.

ODNR Division of Wildlife biologists explain the young adult bears disperse annually, typically as a result of being driven off by their mother as she prepares for the breeding season. Male bears have a larger home range and may travel several hundred miles in search of a mate. Female bears have a smaller home range and seldom venture as far to establish territories.

If a bear is sighted, individuals should contact the Division of Wildlife District Office (614-644-3925) to report the sighting, and then leave the bear alone. Every year, some bear reports in Ohio are associated with nuisance situations. When people remove potential food sources, conflicts with bears often diminish. Moving bird feeders higher, removing uneaten pet food, keeping trash inside until pick up day, and cleaning up after grilling out all help to deter bears from frequenting an area and becoming nuisances.

Read more about what to do if you encounter a black bear in Ohio at wildohio.gov.

Efforts to monitor black bears in Ohio are supported by the Endangered Species and Wildlife Diversity Fund, which receives donations through the sale of Ohio Wildlife Legacy Stamps, the state income tax checkoff program, and the purchase of cardinal license plates. More information is available at wildohio.gov.

The black bear is listed as an endangered species in Ohio and protected by state law.


Thousands need food assistance every month in Knox County

By Cheryl Splain, KnoxPages.com Reporter

MOUNT VERNON — Cash assistance to families in need declined slightly in 2016 compared to 2015. Matthew Kurtz, director of Knox County Job & Family Services, reported year-end statistics to the county commissioners on Thursday.

The $9.54 million disbursed last year, which includes food assistance and TANF (Temporary Aid to Needy Families), came in slightly under the $9.77 million in 2015. Food assistance accounts for the largest portion at $8.59 million.

“It was around $12 million in 2009 and 2010, so it's considerably less than it was at one time,” said Kurtz.

The food assistance program averaged 3,000 individuals representing 6,000 families. The average monthly amount issued to each person was $120.86, about $4 a day. Kurtz said that with an average of 4 percent unemployment the last three to four years there is a job for everyone, but food assistance is still needed because median income remains flat and people are not making enough money. He noted this puts a stress on food banks and other organizations as well as J&FS.

The future of one TANF category, 46 individuals waiting for SSI (Supplemental Security Income), is uncertain because that $69,028 is paid by the state. “From what I am seeing in the budget bill, this will go away,” said Kurtz. “Nothing is final until it's signed, but the indications are this will go away.”

Medicaid expenditures totaled a little over $128 million and were also down from over $129 million in 2015. Medicaid cards issued averaged 14,098. Kurtz said that nearly 8,000 individuals are new since Medicaid was expanded four years ago. This category also faces an uncertain future. “Both bills introduced to replace the Affordable Care Act close the window to expansion, but it will be 2020 to 2021 before those people are gone,” said Kurtz.

Because of the uncertainty of what will happen with the Affordable Care Act and the funding associated with it, Kurtz said he has left two staff positions unfilled. He also said that staff members are transitioning from the state's 1980s-era computer system to a modern one.

"God Bless the USA" singer Lee Greenwood to headline Dan Emmett Festival

MOUNT VERNON – A warm welcome from the 2017 Dan Emmett Music & Arts Festival includes the headline performance of country music icon Lee Greenwood. The concert will be held on Saturday, August 12th at 9:30 pm on the square in downtown Mount Vernon.

Music has always been a part of Lee Greenwood’s life. He started playing piano when he was seven and was discovered in 1979 by Larry McFaden, who saw him performing in a show at the Nugget Casino in Sparks, Nevada. Since then Greenwood has more than 30 albums to his credit. With seven #1 songs & 25 charted singles, some of his hits include “It Turns Me Inside Out”, “Dixie Road”, and duet with Suzie Boggus, “Hopelessly Yours”, that was nominated for a Grammy. His CD “American Patriot”, recorded and released in 1992, went platinum in 3 months.

Lee Greenwood 2017

Greenwood’s most recognizable piece of work is “God Bless the USA” which won him CMA Song of the Year in 1985. “God Bless the USA” has been voted the most recognizable patriotic song in America. “God Bless the USA” went far beyond what Greenwood expected when he wrote it in the back of his tour bus in 1983. The song has been in the top five on the country singles charts three time (1991, 2001, and 2003), giving it the distinction of being the only song in any genre of music to achieve that feat. In 2011, Beyonce offered her version of “God Bless the USA” as a download, with the proceeds going to the 9/11 firefighters fund in NYC.

Greenwood has won numerous other industry awards that include, Male Vocalist of the year for Academy of Country Music in 1983, two Male Vocalist of the Year awards from the Country Music Association, 1983 & 1984 and a Grammy for Top Male Vocalic Performance in 1985 for his song “I.O.U.”.
Reserved seating for the Lee Greenwood performance is available.

The Friend of the Festival reserved area is preferred, up close seating, available on a first come first serve basis. The cost will be $20 per seat. Friend of the Festival Tickets will be available starting June 9th on the Festival website at www.DanEmmettFestival.org or at the Knox County Convention & Visitors Bureau, 107 South Main Street, Mount Vernon, Ohio 43050, by phone at (740) 392-3378 or Toll Free at 1-800-837-5282. Advanced purchase is recommended to guarantee seating. Advanced reservations require prepayment. Space for bring-your-own-chair seating is available behind the reserved seating at no charge.

The 2017 Dan Emmett Music & Arts Festival runs August 10th – 13th in Downtown Mount Vernon with various activities each day. For additional information, contact the Festival at (740) 392-FEST (3378) or email at [email protected].

Lee Greenwood - photo submitted


Around Ohio: Marion police arrest suspect in homicide of 81 year old man


MARION - Police have arrested a woman for the murder of 82-year-old Howard Biederman who was found dead and covered in blood on Wednesday in a residence on Uncapher Avenue. Jackie Miller, 52, was located by officers at a residence that is within walking distance to the homicide scene. According to the MPD report, Miller was a primary lead in the investigation as she was known to be familiar with the victim.

Upon initial contact with officers, Miller was found to be in possession of crack cocaine and was placed under arrest for drug possession. Miller was taken to the Marion Police Department where investigators conducted a formal interview. As a result of that interview and additional factors Miller was placed under arrest for the Biederman murder. The case will be presented to the Marion County Prosecutor's Officee for review and filing of a formal complaint.

Marion Police Chief Bill Collins said, "Any time that we are able to have a surder suspect in handcuffs within four hours provides a great relief to both our department and the community at large. I am thankful for hte dedicated and thorough efforts of our officers, detecties and support staff who worked tirelessly through the night to bring this tragedy to a conclusion."

The investigation is on-going.

This is the first homicide in Marion in 2017.


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