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Mount Vernon, Knox County, Ohio

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Voters will decide Health Dept. issue in November

 

MOUNT VERNON — A Knox County Health Department levy will be on the ballot in November, but whether it will be a renewal or replacement is yet to be determined.

Health Commissioner Julie Miller told the county commissioners Tuesday morning that a replacement 0.8-mill levy will generate an estimated $140,000 in additional revenue. A 1-mill levy, which is being considered, will generate around $400,000 in additional revenue.

Miller said that six-year financial projections show the health department facing the same issues as the county in terms of state funding cuts. Although the budget looks good now, in 2019 it will be tough. She noted that $150,000 a year will be freed up in five years when the bonds are paid off on the health department building. The department has cut costs by sharing services with the county and revamping phone and internet services, and it is considering a solar roof when the roof needs replaced in a few years.

Miller said the health center is going well. “The dentist is extremely busy...the health provider could be a little busier,” she said. Mental health and substance abuse services will be phased in over the next few years. Until then, patients are referred to Behavioral Health Partners and The Freedom Center.

She said there are still too many seniors without health care and who are isolated. “The other group we are trying to grow to is veterans,” she said. Although the center is not yet credentialed with TRICARE, the military's health insurance program, patients will still be treated. The center has a $25 minimum fee because the grant requires the center to try and bring in revenue, but the fee will be waived if the patient is unable to pay. The center is just now starting to see revenue come in from insurance billing.

Referring to how busy the food service industry keeps department personnel, Miller said, “I love seeing growth in Knox County, but we don't need any more food service.” She said the department needs another food sanitarian to handle the growth in food service vendors. If another sanitarian is hired, the cost will be covered through increased fees.

Miller said that the health board is looking at transitioning out of home health. Although the board does not know what that will look like, Miller said the board is very cognizant of providing a safety net for services, especially to the senior population.

The department purchased a new mosquito sprayer with money from an EPA grant. The old sprayer may be sold to the park district. Mosquito spraying will start soon throughout the county.

 

 

 

Memorial Bridge dedicated to Corporal Nathan R. Anderson, USMC on Route 36 and Monroe Mills Road

By Marty Trese, KnoxPages.com Editor

 

HOWARD - A hero was remembered Monday morning as the bridge memorializing Corporal Nathan R. Anderson, USMC at U.S. 36 and Monroe Mills was dedicated. Cpl Anderson's family and friends were joined by current and former state representatives, county officials, the Columbus Police & Fire Pipes & Drums, Veterans Service Office personnel, and community members.

Cpl. Anderson was serving during Operation Iraqi Freedom assigned to 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C. and killed in Anbar province, Iraq.

State Representative Rick Carfagna, whose district includes Knox County, said, "This sign is a very important reminder not just of the price of freedom but also the consequence of war." Not only has the family lost a son but Knox county has lost one of its best and bgrightest who was taken way too early.
Carfagna said he has a young daughter who likes to read signs. I hope people will drive by this sign and kids will wonder, "Who was he, why is his name on that sign? Not just how did he die but how did he live?"

Anderson's sister Traci Shaw, a Columbus Police officer, shared a little about her brother. He grew up in Apple Valley and graduated from East Knox High School in 2001. He enjoyed hunting, fishing, snowboarding and bull riding. Growing up, he looked up to NBA star Michael Jordan and had his poster on his bedroom wall. He had #23 on his high school football jersey, which was the same number on Jordan's jersey. Nate was also an avid OSU football fan.
Nate enlisted in the Marines in June of 2001. His training took him to 11 diffferent countries. On November 7, 2004 the second battle of Falujah, Iraq began. On November 12 two Marines delivered the news to the family in their home just up the road from the bridge, that Nate was dead.

"After 9/11 there was a patriotic feel that swept across this country," said Shaw. "Men and women from all walks of life signed up to protect freedom and protect the United States of America. It is great to come here today to dedicate this bridge but that can't be the end of it. We need to ensure that the service and sacrifice of our nation's veterans be fully appreciated by future generations."

Anderson bridge dedication

Family of Cpl. Nathan Anderson at the memorial bridge dedication - KP Photo

Nathan was thinking of his future generations when he set up his life insurance so that if he was killed in action the money would go to pay for his nieces go to college. "Nate was a good one," said Shaw, "He was going to take care of his family."

Kevin Henthorn, USAF Veteran and Director of the Knox County Veterans Service Office thanked the family and those who made the dedication possible, including Veterans Services Commissioner Jerry Robinson.

Henthorn concluded his remarks by reading a poem, The Soldier Came Home, In memory of Nathan Anderson written by a resident around the time Cpl Anderson's body returned to Howard in 2004.

The Soldier Came Home
In memory of Nathan Anderson

“The people who were sitting in darkness saw a great light.”Cpl Anderson
Matthew 4:16

On the face of the barn as you enter the town,
When night is near and the sun goes down,
A light shines through the wood of a cross
And shadows the flag for those who are lost.
September 11th may we never forget,
Within hours Americans were all patriots.
Stars and stripes from state to state,
But there had to be more lest we seal our fate.
Sunday came, in church you could stand,
Within months their seats were empty again.
Several months’ later decisions were made
To stand for the truth a price must be paid.
The boy left home willing to fight
For the privilege we have, (not the right).
On bended knee we must do our part,
Pray for our soldiers with all of our heart.
And thank our God for the reason men came
To fight for the freedom found in His name.
The flag is a picture we need to recall,
United we stand divided we fall.
The cross is a symbol of the truth we believe.
Nothing is ours we have not received.
Only in Jesus is there true light,
Sometimes forgotten until the night.
Ohio 36, the soldier came home,
And past the barn where the light is shone.
Escorted in honor, grateful we stood,
The boy who left home had reached manhood.
Never to see another rising sun.
For all he could do he had already done.
For your life and mine his was lost.
For freedom he paid the ultimate cost.

 

Around Ohio: State files lawsuit against Opioid manufacturers for Fraudulent Marketing

 COLUMBUS - Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against five leading prescription opioid manufacturers and their related companies in Ross County Court of Common Pleas. The lawsuit alleges that the drug companies engaged in fraudulent marketing regarding the risks and benefits of prescription opioids which fueled Ohio's opioid epidemic.

"We believe the evidence will also show that these companies got thousands and thousands of Ohioans -- our friends, our family members, our co-workers, our kids -- addicted to opioid pain medications, which has all too often led to use of the cheaper alternatives of heroin and synthetic opioids. These drug manufacturers led prescribers to believe that opioids were not addictive, that addiction was an easy thing to overcome, or that addiction could actually be treated by taking even more opioids" said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. "They knew they were wrong, but they did it anyway -- and they continue to do it. Despite all evidence to the contrary about the addictive nature of these pain medications, they are doing precious little to take responsibility for their actions and to tell the public the truth."

The five manufacturers which are listed as defendants include:

-Purdue Pharma, which sold OxyContin, MS Contin, Dilaudid, Butrans, Hyslingla, and Targiniq
-Endo Health Solutions, which sold Percocet, Percodan, Opana, and Zydone
-Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and its subsidiary Cephalon, which sold Actiq and Fentora
-Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals, which sold Duragesic and Nucynta
-Allergan, which sold Kadian, Norco, and several generic opioids

The lawsuit alleges, among several counts, that the drug companies violated the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act and created a public nuisance by disseminating false and misleading statements about the risks and benefits of opioids. This false marketing included medical journal advertising, sales representative statements, and the use of front groups to deliver information which downplayed the risks and inflated the benefits of certain formulations of opioids. This behavior proliferated the prescription of opioids and fueled the opioid epidemic Ohio is currently facing.

In the lawsuit, Attorney General DeWine is seeking the following remedies, including:

A declaration that the companies’ actions were illegal
An injunction to stop their continued deceptions and misrepresentations and to abate the harm they have caused
Damages for the money that the State spent on the opioids that these companies sold and marketed in Ohio and for other costs of their deceptive acts
Repayment to consumers who, like the State, paid for unnecessary opioid prescriptions for chronic pain.

The lawsuit was filed in Ross County as Southern Ohio was likely the hardest hit area in the nation by the opioid epidemic.

 

Commissioners challenged on 1/2% sales tax increase

By Cheryl Splain, KnoxPages.com Reporter

MOUNT VERNON — Twelve county residents attended the second and final public hearing held Thursday evening regarding the ½ percent sales tax increase the county commissioners are proposing.

Commissioner Thom Collier again presented numbers detailing the county's increasing expenses and decreasing revenues over the past 10 years. The criminal justice system accounts for the biggest expenses, increasing over $2 million since 2010.

Total state funding declined in 2016 to around $1.25 million, down from more than $1.4 million in 2008. Projections for 2017 and 2018 are $1 million and $750,000, respectively.

In addition to expenses and revenue, Collier cited several preventive measures the commissioners have taken to reduce costs:
*Brought departments such as OSU Extension and Knox Soil and Water District into county-owned property rather than renting space
*Approved solar installation at the Knox County Jail to reduce electric costs
*Hired a maintenance supervisor to handle a variety of tasks rather than contract out with individual contractors for services
*Reduced liability by installing a body scanner at the jail, increasing camera/security in county buildings and investimg in IT upgrades to deter ransomware issues

Knox County's current tax is 6.75 percent, of which 5.75 goes to the state. The county's 1 percent is divided between 9-1-1 services (0.25 percent) and the general fund (0.75 percent). Enactment of a ½ percent increase puts the county at its maximum taxing capability of 1.5 percent.

Brian Wynkoop, Granville Road, questioned money received from the state's casino tax. Projections were for Knox County to receive $1.25 million annually; in reality, revenue is static at $700,000.

Eric Helt, Gambier, told the commissioners he did not see any other options for the commissioners other than to raise the sales tax. His concern is the bigger problem, which he said is that Republicans have held the state legislature for 20 years. Citing reduced tax brackets, elimination of the estate tax and increased fees for drivers' licenses, among other issues, he said the problem is that local Republicans do not speak out against Gov. John Kasich's programs.

Referring to the high expenses related to the county's opiate problem, Mary Schmitz, Mount Vernon, said that the cost for drug users who repeatedly overdose and receive Narcan “should not be on the backs of people through a sales tax,” adding that she and her husband are on a fixed income. “Some of these things are real legitimate,” she said, referring to the need for road and other improvements. Collier clarified that the cost of the Narcan itself is not paid for through the county's general fund.

Gambier resident Dan Wilson, who opposes the tax increase, questioned the effect it would have on real estate and asked whether the commissioners considered a ¼ percent raise rather than ½ percent. “One-quarter percent may withstand the cuts from the state this time, but it wouldn't do anything for the future and wouldn't add anything for capital improvements,” said Collier. It also would not meet the state's requirement to max out the county's taxing capability.

Drew McCoy, Howard, agreed with Helt that there needs to be more public pressure expressing displeasure at the state level and also agreed that the commissioners' hands were mostly tied. He said he would like to see more effort put toward treatment centers and recovery, as well as nonprosecution of the crime of “doing heroin.”

Collier said that statistics show that 40 percent of users complete recovery programs while 60 percent still are not helped. Working toward the goals of treatment and recovery, the county has added a nurse position to the jail staff.

County Prosecutor Chip McConville said the amount of work his office is doing has increased. Indictments totaled 216 in 2015 and 277 in 2016; indictments for 2017 are on pace for 250 to 260. He thanked the commissioners for hiring an additional assistant prosecutor to handle the caseload.

He said that drug use correlates with certain groups of offenses, such as theft and violence. Defendants who go through the Court of Common Pleas are asked whether they are addicted or in danger of becoming addicted. “More than 80 percent who come through felony court say they are addicted or at risk,” he said.

Regarding McCoy's desire to see more money for funding and recovery, McConville said two initiatives are underway. First-time offenders who go into a recovery program have their charges dismissed without a felony conviction on their record, thus aiding their efforts to find a job. Second, a Good Samaritan program pending in the Ohio Legislature states that an individual who self-reports regarding drug use and gets treatment within 30 days cannot be charged.

Kerry King, Mount Vernon, said that penalties do not seem to be severe enough to keep individuals from being repeat offenders.

“I would support the county very much in raising the tax,” said Grover “Skip” Wilkinson of Fredericktown, adding that the problem actually stems from the federal level with politicians of both parties.

“I am against this tax increase, so tighten your belts,” Konrad Schiefer, Gilchrist Road, told the commissioners. He added that it should be published every night, questioning why the state is not fulfilling its promises.

Those attending the hearing received a handout showing tax rates in all of Ohio's counties. Currently 66 counties have a higher sales tax than Knox County. The ½ percent increase is expected to generate between $2 million and $2.5 million a year, part of which will go toward capital improvements.

 

 

State Route 308 work set for June 5-9

 

MOUNT VERNON - Beginning Monday, June 5, SR 308 in Knox County will be closed at multiple locations while ODOT crews work on replacing culverts in the area. Work hours will be from 7:00am to 3:30pm daily, however, the road will be closed to through traffic at each location for the duration of the project. For a detour, motorists can use SR 229 east to US 62 east, to US 36 west and reverse. This project is expected to be completed by the end of the day Friday, June 9, weather permitting.

Monday, June 5 - Tuesday, June 6: SR 308 closed between Woodside Dr. and New Gambier Rd.
Tuesday, June 6 - Wednesday, June 7: Intersection of SR 308 and New Gambier Rd. closed
Wednesday, June 7 - Friday, June 9: SR 308 closed between Yauger Rd. and US 36

 

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