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Mount Vernon, Knox County, Ohio


Zoning change approved on N. Sandusky to accomodate restaurant parking

By Cheryl Splain, KnoxPages.com Reporter

MOUNT VERNON — A second public hearing was held on Monday prior to council's legislative session to discuss the rezoning of 660 N. Sandusky St. from R1 single-family residential to GB, general business. Although council chambers was full of residents supporting the rezoning, no one was present who opposed.

Property owner Aaron Oakley plans to demolish the house on the lot and create a 24-space parking lot for Amato's Wood Fired Pizza located next door. Even with the 24 spaces, the restaurant may be three or four spaces shy of the number required by city code. Several council members and Safety-service Director Joel Daniels said they felt Oakley would have no problem getting a variance from the Board of Zoning Appeals waiving the three or four remaining spaces. Daniels further said he will support a variance request to the BZA.

Oakley said the resident who, on behalf of his father, previously opposed the rezoning approached Oakley about selling his father's lot at 658 N. Sandusky St. Oakley agreed to purchase the lot, which would accommodate an additional 24 spaces. Council waived the third reading of the resolution and approved the rezoning during its legislative session.

In other business during the legislative session, council:
Authorized the city auditor to appropriate $1,659.57 received from the Colonial City Moose Lodge #2555 to the bike patrol account
Waived three readings and adopted a resolution authorizing an alternate member of the Historical Review Commission
Waived three readings and adopted a pay rate of $10.50 an hour for the two seasonal employees funded by Ariel Corp.
Authorized the sale of the property on Ridgewood Avenue where the water/wastewater garage was formerly located

Memorial Day
The city's Memorial Day Parade will start at 10:30 a.m.; participants and floats are asked to arrive at 9 a.m. The parade route is changed this year; the route will be East High Street to Gay Street, south on Gay Street and east on Vine Street to return to the staging area. The community is encouraged to attend the parade and ceremony, which will include the re-dedication of the Memorial Building. Mel Helmick is the parade marshal.

MVParade route Memorial Day

Route for Monday's Memorial Day Parade - courtesy mayor's office

Bicycle Ordinance
Law Director Rob Broeren said he has been asked about bicycles on city sidewalks. Ordinance 373.10 prohibits bicycle riding on sidewalks. Councilwoman Susan Kahrl will convene a committee meeting prior to the June legislative session to familiarize council members with the city's bicycle ordinance.


MV Council hears pros and cons of medical marijuana


By Cheryl Splain, KnoxPages.com Reporter

MOUNT VERNON — On Monday, council members began the process of deciding whether to allow growing or dispensing of medical marijuana within the city limits.

In 2016, the Ohio Legislature passed a law allowing marijuana to be grown and dispensed for 20 diagnoses. “Part of the law allows individual communities to determine if they want to have growing, selling or any part of medical marijuana,” said Law Director Rob Broeren. If communities do not specifically prohibit it, then it is automatically allowed.

Under the law, Ohio physicians can recommend a patient be eligible for treatment with medical marijuana. The patient takes this recommendation to a dispensary to receive the marijuana. The marijuana can be in the form of a pill, capsule or patch. Unlike Colorado, which allows recreational marijuana, Ohio's law states the marijuana cannot be smoked.

“We are right in the middle of trying to clean up our community...I'm not against medical marijuana, it's how it's distributed,” said Councilman John Francis. “A dispensary isn't a regulated pharmacy.”

Councilman John Booth said he is afraid it will get totally out of control like the over prescribing of Oxycodone.

West High Street resident Andrew Pike favors council passing legislation opposing any form of medical marijuana within the city limits. He compared it to when cocaine was first discovered; the thinking was that it was an effective pain killer, but it turned out it just masked the pain because users were getting high. He also questioned whether patients who no longer need the marijuana for medical reasons will still want it.

Local pharmacist Scott Miglin favors medical marijuana for medical and economic reasons. “The 20 qualified diagnoses are all without cure and treatment often is limited,” he said. “Medical marijuana is intended for these patients.” Comparing marijuana to legal substances such as alcohol and illegal drugs such as cocaine, Miglin said that there have been zero overdose deaths attributed to marijuana itself and that medical marijuana has in fact reduced the use of opioids in states that allow medical marijuana.

He said that a grower facility or dispensary creates jobs and that if the city allowed a dispensary, out-of-town people would have to come to Mount Vernon since there are a limited number of dispensaries available. “A legal medical marijuana program will benefit [Mount Vernon] medically and economically,” he said.

Knox County Sheriff David Shaffer also opposed medical marijuana. He said he visited Colorado shortly after the state legalized marijuana. There were daily news reports about issues at a dispensary or grow site, billboards that targeted youth with marijuana candy, and the hospitals had problems with overdoses.

He said the Buckeye State Sheriffs' Association opposes medical marijuana, viewing it as a stepping stone to other drugs. He said that not everyone who uses marijuana advances to heroin, but everyone on heroin has used marijuana. “I think it's just too unproven for us,” he said.

Councilman Sam Barone said marijuana can be a gateway drug, but it can also benefit some people and may keep them off opioids, “which we are really struggling with.”

Councilwoman Nancy Vail said she will schedule a Planning and Zoning committee meeting to discuss the issue and review draft legislation. Broeren said that even if the city bans the growth or sale of medical marijuana, a medical marijuana operation could be set up just outside the city limits unless township trustees take steps to ban it also.


MVHS Class of 2017 receives diplomas

By Marty Trese, KnoxPages.com Editor

MOUNT VERNON - The venue had to be changed due to the weather, but the rainy day did not dampen the spirits of the 292 MVHS seniors who received their diplomas at Sunday afternoon's commencement. The ceremony was moved to MVNU's R. R. Hodges Chapel. Overflow seating was available in the MVHS theater and the event was livestreamed on the internet thanks to the university. 

Edward Elgar's traditional graduation march, "Pomp and Circumstance" was performed by the MVHS Orchestra, directed by Anthony Springer, for the processional. The MVHS Chorale also performed during the ceremony under the direction of Marty Bell.

The speakers for the event included seniors Victoria Risko and Lacey Montgomery. Senior class president Freddie Bockover presented the senior class gift, a bench near the spirit rock at the high school in memory of math teacher and wrestling coach John Brown who passed away last December. Bockover also announced that the words to the MVHS alma mater will be painted in the MVHS gym, also known as the Hive. It's hoped the painting will encourage participation in the singing of the alma mater before sporting events. The last line of the song is, "When we're gone we'll still remember our Mount Vernon High."

Superintendent William Seder talked to the graduates about the journey after high school. Making comparisons to a GPS device, he asked them to consider the scenic route and to not always take the fastest route through life. 

High School principal Scott Will read the names of the graduates as they crossed the stage and members of the board of education handed out the diplomas. Each student received a hug from a teacher of their choosing once diploma was in hand.




Stand off situation on Prospect Street ends without incident

By Marty Trese, KnoxPages.com Editor


MOUNT VERNON - MVPD was called to a residence at 18 Prospect Street at 6:55 p.m. Sunday on a report of shots fired. The homeowner, Joy Whitaker, called 9-1-1 after a friend, Anthony Ferrell, 28, fired shots with a .40 cal. handgun in the front yard. Police say Farrell was threatening that he was going "to commit suicide by cop." No one was hit by the gunfire.

MVPD Captain Scott McKnight says Whitaker left her home. Ferrell and Cindy Clements, 30, were still inside the home when police set up a perimeter. Capt. McKnight says 5-6 homes in the immediate area were alerted to the situation and evacuated to avoid any crossfire. Police say that a text alert was sent out but neighbors KnoxPages.com spoke to at the scene said they never received a text alert.

Officers from the Knox County Sheriff's Office were called in to set up a command post. The Mansfield Police Department armored SWAT vehicle was also called to the scene. Officers were trying to convince Farrell to come out of the house and were using a bullhorn repeatedly to communicate with him. Capt. McKnight says officers also talked to Farrell on the phone.

Around 11:30 p.m. officers stopped receiving contact with him and about 3:00 a.m. Monday morning officers made entry into the home and found Clements and Farrell passed out. They were taken to Knox Community Hospital and then on to the Knox County Jail.

Capt. McKnight says that a squad was called to the same address earlier over the weekend on a drug overdose call. Farrell was given 5 doses of narcan to revive him.

Clements was arrested on an outstanding warrant out of Delaware County. Charges are pending against Ferrell.


To read more KnoxPages local news click here.


Courts and judicial perspective presented at 3rd Drug Town Hall

 By Marty Trese, KnoxPages.com Editor

MOUNT VERNON - More than 100 people attended Thursday evening's Town Hall meeting at Twin Oak Elementary School. It was the third of four meetings focused on drugs in our community, awareness and prevention. Mayor Dick Mavis, Municipal court Chief Probation Officer David Priest, the Knox Substance Abuse Action Team, KSAAT, and others are collaborating through this series to give residents an opportunity to learn more about the drug epidemic.

Thursday's session focused on the court perspective and judicial process.

Those who spoke included Chip McConville Knox County Prosecutor, Robert Broeren, Mount Vernon City Law Director, Knox County Sheriff David Shaffer, Judge John Thatcher, Mount Vernon Municipal (MERIT Court Program), Judge Richard Wetzel, Knox County Common Pleas, Judge Jennifer Springer, Probate/Juvenile Court, Adult Probation Department/Adult Court Services, Merit Court participants and those currently in recovery.

Chip and Dave TH3

Knox County Prosecutor Chip McConville,left, and Sherif David Shaffer at Thursday's drug awareness town hall meeeting at Twin Oak elementary school - KP Photo

McConville shared that the most widely used drug in Knox County today is methamphetamine. In fact, detectives were dispatched on a potential meth lab call last evening. One of the many statistics McConville shared is that there were 45 indicted felony cases that were drug related last year and 54 such cases so far this year. In 2012 meth cases were 17% of the total. In 2016 they were 60%.

McConville said the strategy for dealing with this problem is to separate the dealers from the users and put them on different paths. Intervention in Lieu of Conviction is one of those paths for users, for first time offenders who get tied up in something that is either a drug case or a drug-related case. The program allows someone to avoid a felony conviction if they have a first time offense and all of the consequences that go with that such as unemployment and get them into an outpatient treatment program.
McConville said, "Out of the felony cases that we've seen, 80% of those who have pleaded guilty to a felony say they are drug or alcohol dependent. There is no doubt that drugs are driving the bus in terms of the crime here in Knox County."

While McConville prosecutes felony cases in Common Pleas court, misdemeanors are prosecuted in Mount Vernon Municipal Court. City Law Director Rob Broeren said there has been a spike in drugged driving cases. Municipal Court Judge John Thatcher gave an overview of the relatively new MERIT court. It's been used for about a year. The program involves several phases and Thatcher said the goal is help offenders be less likely to re-offend. So far 28 people have gone through the program. Thatcher said that the drug court is part of the solution to the drug problem. "We try to give them a chance to be a contributing member of the community," said Thatcher.

The final town hall is set for next Tuesday, May 23rd,6:30 p.m.and the topics to be covered include community recovery and addiction resources.

Video of the town hall courtesy Mount Vernon mayor's office.

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