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Koenigsberg shares Holocaust survival story with Centerburg students

By Alan Grove, KnoxPages.com Reporter

CENTERBURG - Gahanna resident John Koenigsberg, a Holocaust survivor born in 1937 in Amsterdam, Holland, came to the Centerburg High School May 23 to tell his story to students who have been studying the Holocaust. Koenigsberg said he gives these talks because he does not want to forget.

Koenigsberg has been speaking for approximately 20 years and has spoken at the school for approximately 10 years now. “There are not many who are as documented as I am,” Koenigsberg said. “I like to research.”

“I just don’t want it to go away,” he said. “We’re trying desperately to try to have the second and third generations speak, but it’s hard, because public speaking is normally a little bit tough.”

Holocause pic 1

John Koenigsberg, a native of Holland, shared his Holocaust survival story with Centerburg students Tuesday - KP Photo by Alan Grove

Koenigsberg said seeing students’ reactions makes him a little sad sometimes.“A lot of these kids don’t have a clue what happens because they weren’t taught,” he said. “I’ve also seen a little bit of decline in some of the public schools, but most of the time I am very, very happy.”

Koenigsberg said he always asks for input from the kids because he always finds out more about how he impacts them. Centerburg students wrote letters telling him what they learned and thanking him for coming. “My wife is the first one to get to the letters to start reading them,” he said.

Sophomore Blissann Treffert said Koenigsberg made her feel grateful that she didn’t have to go through the Holocaust. “I didn’t have to worry about anything that he did when I was six,” Treffert said.

Koenigsberg’s life turned upside down at age six, when the Germans occupied Holland and began deportations of the Dutch-Jews. First, his grandfather, whom he was closest to, was deported. Then, he and his parents avoided deportation because of his father’s medical worker’s immunity stamp on his I.D. He worked at a Jewish hospital in Amsterdam. Koenigsberg himself avoided deportation through an induced illness and a fake appendix operation.
Later, his parents decided it would be safest to split up and go into hiding.

Koenigsberg’s parents arranged for him to stay with a Dutch family who turned out to be Nazi sympathizers. He said the only reason they did not turn him in was because of the money his parents had given them and the promise of more. His parents found out and moved him to a new family named the Snijckers.
When American GI’s freed them and Germany finally surrendered, his parents, who had both survived the war in hiding, began frantically looking for him and eventually found him. The Koenigsbergs visited the Snijckers often, but Mrs. Snijckers suffered severe bouts of depression every time because she missed him and wanted him to stay. Eventually, the families ended all contact for her sake.

Treffert said the part of his story when he had to leave the Snijckers stuck with her the most. “It really showed how much he loved them because he did it so Mrs. Snijckers would get better even though he would never talk to her again,” she said. Treffert said she found the story very interesting. “Seeing how their daily life changed as they were discriminated against really put into perspective how much people were affected even if they weren’t put in camps,” Treffert said.

Sophomore Morgan Mead also said the speaker made him feel really grateful that he was born in this time period and no one had to go through that.
“The person closest to him in his life [his grandfather] was taken away in a matter of minutes,” Mead said. “It shows me not to take my family or friends for granted.” 

Mead said he highly recommends that people listen to Koenigsberg speak. 

“It’s really heart-wrenching, and some parts of it you can tell he is a bit emotional,” Mead said. “There aren’t many survivors left, and to be able to hear it in person is something that you won’t forget.”

Visit the Holocaust Memorial Program Facebook page to find out where upcoming events will be where Koenigsberg will speak in the future.

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.

 

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.

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To read more KnoxPages local news click here.

 

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.

 

 

 

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