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Mount Vernon, Knox County, Ohio


President Trump declares opioid epidemic a national emergency

CLEVELAND – Ohio's U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman applauded the Trump Administration which declared the opioid epidemic a national emergency Thursday. Brown has worked with members of both parties to secure federal resources and address the opioid crisis in Ohio communities, which have been hit particularly hard. 

By declaring the opioid epidemic a national emergency, the Trump Administration can now take important steps that Brown has called for to address the crisis, including additional funding and lifting an outdated cap on the number of beds covered by Medicaid at residential treatment facilities. Brown has a bill with U.S. Senator Rob Portman, which would also lift the outdated cap.

“Communities across Ohio don’t need a declaration to tell them the opioid crisis is an emergency. While this is an important step, combatting the opioid epidemic requires more than words -- it requires meaningful action and investment,” said Brown. “Law enforcement officers throughout Ohio have told me that we cannot arrest our way out of this problem. I hope that the Administration works quickly and prudently to finally take the steps necessary to call this opioid epidemic what it is – a national emergency – and follow-up with meaningful action and investment.”

The Trump Administration’s declaration of a national emergency comes following recommendation from the Administration’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. Several of the Commission’s recommendations are proposals Brown has worked on, including:
Eliminating an outdated cap on the number of beds at substance abuse treatment facilities that can be covered under Medicaid. Current law limits use of Medicaid funding for residential mental health or substance abuse treatment to facilities with just 16 beds or less, which prevents many Ohioans from getting the help they need. Brown has legislation with Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) to lift the cap so Ohioans can get care. The Commission’s report notes this is one of the quickest ways to get people into treatment.

Portman said, "There is no doubt that this heroin and prescription drug epidemic is a crisis affecting our entire country, and I applaud the president for his decision to declare it a national emergency.  While Congress has made some progress in addressing this crisis by passing the Comprehensive Addiction & Recovery Act and the 21st Century CURES Act, we can and should do more.  We must continue to fully fund important programs on prevention, treatment, and recovery, and we must take additional legislative action to help stop overprescribing, increase the number of treatment beds covered by Medicaid at residential treatment facilities, and help stop the flow of synthetic opioids that are shipped into this country through the postal service. I was pleased the Trump Administration again endorsed the STOP Act in its interim opioid report last week, and I would urge the Senate to act on this bipartisan legislation soon.” 

Increasing access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT). Brown has worked on legislation to expand use of MAT, which was included in the Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act (CARA), which Brown supported. He has also cosponsored The Recovery Enhancement for Addiction Treatment Act (TREAT Act) to further expand access to this effective form of treatment.

Increasing access to naloxone. Brown has called on the government to boost funding to help first responders maintain a supply of naloxone and supported CARA, which authorized funding for overdose reversal drugs.

Providing more resources to Customs and Border Patrol to keep fentanyl out of the U.S. Brown teamed up with Senator Portman on a pair of bills to help block the flow of fentanyl to Ohio communities, the INTERDICT and STOP Acts. The STOP Act, which Brown is cosponsoring, would help USPS detect these drugs. Brown’s INTERDICT ACT provides Customs and Border agents with additional resources to screen for fentanyl safely and effectively.

Last week, Brown applauded a proposal issued by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to reduce the production of prescription opioids by 20 percent next year. The DEA is responsible for establishing annual quotas determining the exact amount of each opioid drug that is permitted to be produced in the U.S. each year. Brown asked the agency to take this step.


Knox County Grand Jury indictments August 7, 2017

 MOUNT VERNON - The Knox County Grand Jury indicted 11 persons this week on various drug charges, breaking and entering, and theft.

 All are scheduled for criminal arraignment on August 25 in Knox County Common Pleas Court.

Cody Jay M. Lewis - Aggravated Possession of Drugs, Felony 5th degree; Operating a Vehicle under the Influence, Misdemeanor 1st degree

Lisa M. Rohal - Aggravated Possession of Drugs, Felony 5th degree, Possession of Marijuana, Misdemeanor 1st degree;  Illegal use or Possession of Marijuana Drug Paraphernalia

Nicole M. Mitchell - Theft, Felony 5th degree

Derrick Rowe - Theft, Felony 5th degree

Roy Wilson – Forgery, Felony 5th degree; Theft, Felony 5th degree

Anna Frost -   Forgery, Felony 5th degree; Theft, Felony 5th degree

Donald E. Johnson – Breaking and Entering, Felony 5th degree; Theft and/or Grand Theft, Misdemanor 1st degree

Steven Thompson – Aggravated Possession of Drugs, Felony 5th degree

Edward Horn – Permitting Drug Abuse, Felony 5th degree

Tia R. Moore- Permitting Drug Abuse, Felony 5th degree


Children's Resource Center to expand

MOUNT VERNON — Plans to expand the Children's Resource Center, 17606 Coshocton Road, are once again moving forward. Matthew Kurtz, director of Knox County Job & Family Services, told the county commissioners on Thursday that he anticipates the final plans will be ready by late this month.

The CRC is a 12-bed residential facility for traumatized youth who need extra attention not available in the traditional foster care setting. It is operated by The Village Network. The county owns the single-use building; The Village Network pays the expenses, maintenance and bonding on the building.

The Village Network is coordinating the 15,000-square-feet expansion project, which Kurtz estimates will be in the ballpark of $2.5 million. “I think that is manageable based on what we are seeing in bond rates,” he said. It will be a 30-year bond.

Kurtz asked the commissioners to consider including pay for a project manager in the bond. “A project of this size may be too large to handle on a day-to-day basis,” he said.

In addition to the current 12,000-square-feet facility, The Village Network rents space in various buildings throughout the county. The additional space will be used for trauma therapy classrooms, administrative space, foster care training, art and pottery therapy rooms and a multipurpose room for working on gross motor skills. “The vision is to have everything there on the campus,” said Kurtz.

Three locations in Knox County test positive for West Nile Virus

MOUNT VERNON - Trapping and testing of mosquitoes in Knox County has resulted in the positive identification of West Nile Virus (WNV) in three different locations. Late Monday, the Knox County Health Department received notification of the positive results from the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) which had placed the mosquito traps at the end of July.

The positive samples were collected in Fredericktown, Gambier and the Apple Valley area of Howard.

Knox County joins 19 other Ohio counties with positive WNV activity including neighboring Richland and Licking counties. As of Monday, ODH and local health departments have placed traps in 43 counties this summer, collecting nearly 8,000 samples of which over 200,000 mosquitoes were tested. Despite the positive collections, there have been no reports of West Nile Virus in humans

Nate Overholt, environmental health director with the Knox County Health Department said the agency “will conduct pesticide spraying in the areas where the positive mosquitoes were trapped.” The environmental health staff will also treat areas of standing water with larvacide to help reduce the mosquito population.

“The entire state is seeing an earlier onset of mosquitos infected with West Nile Virus than in years past,” said Overholt. Statewide, positive cases were on the rise early in July. Last year, an increase in positive cases did not happen until mid-August. The last positive collection of infected mosquitoes in Knox County was in late August 2015.

WNV is spread to humans from the bite of an infected mosquito, which gets the virus from biting an infected bird. The virus can cause an infection in humans that can lead to encephalitis. Many types of birds can be infected, but crows and blue jays are most likely to die from the disease. Horses are also prone to WNV.

Most people who become infected with WNV do not have any symptoms. About one in five people who become infected develop a fever with other symptoms such as headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash. Less than 1 percent of infected people develop a serious neurologic illness, such as encephalitis or meningitis (inflammation of the brain or surrounding tissues).

There is no specific treatment for WNV infection, and care is based on symptoms.

Overholt urged local residents to take personal measures to protect themselves from mosquitoes. Those measures include using insect repellent containing DEET and empting water-holding containers such as plant saucers, outdoor toys, old tires and other items around your home. Mosquitoes need just a small amount of water to lay their eggs which hatch in just a day or two.

“Mosquitoes are likely to be biting between dusk and dawn,” said Overholt. “If you must be outdoors when mosquitoes are active, cover up by wearing shoes, socks, long pants and long-sleeved shirts. Also, wear, light colors. They are less attractive to mosquitoes.”

The Health Department will spray for mosquitos this Thursday, August 10th at 5:30 a.m. in Apple Valley. If the spraying is cancelled due to inclement weather, it will be rescheduled.


Remillard found competent to stand trial for cousin's murder

MOUNT VERNON - Following receipt of a mental health evaluation report, Knox County Common Pleas Court Judge Richard Wetzel ruled Friday morning that Kevin Remillard, 48 of Gambier, is competent to stand trial for the murder of his cousin, Nick Remillard, 20. The report was submitted to the court by two experts.  

Earlier this summer the Knox County Grand Jury indicted Remillard for murder and tampering with evidence. Nick's body was found last June in an abandoned swimming pool behind the Gaskin Avenue home in Gambier where they both lived.  Kevin was on the run for three days before turning himself in to an attorney. 

Kevin R 842017

Kevin Remillard, left, at Friday's competency hearing in Common Pleas Court. Public defender John Pyle is representing Remillard - KP Photo

Remillard's trial date has not be set yet. Prosecuting Attorney Chip McConville says scientific evidence, items and reports pertinent to the case have not been returned from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation. Once those are returned a trial date can be set.



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