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Mount Vernon, Knox County, Ohio


MVPD honors officers for success in drug cases

By Marty Trese, KnoxPages.com Editor

MOUNT VERNON - Law enforcement efforts to crack down on the sale of illegal drugs in the community have resulted in awards for outstanding service at the MVPD.

Public service, integrity, loyallty and dedication. Those are the qualities of the 2016 MVPD Officer of the year, Ptl. Jessica Butler.

Chief Roger Monroe says Officer Butler had to change positions this year and take over a new role of drug interdiction. Monroe said, "Since she's been in this position, [she's] been killing it.  I can't even tell you the amount of arrests [that] are being made, the contacts, and the production she has had since [she] has been in this position." 

Officer Butler has worked in the department 14 years. 

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MVPD 2016 Officer of the Year Ptl.Jessica Butler is congratulated by Chief Roger Monroe Thursday afternoon - KP Photo by Marty Trese

The Bartlett Award is named for the late Thomas Bartlett, MVPD's Chief from 1983-2006. The award is presented for outstanding performance in the line of duty. Chief Monroe says the award is given to the officer who also went above and beyond for the year. "In this case, we had a joint operation with BCI, MVPD and KCSO in working an ongoing drug investigation on a business that we have been trying to get into for over two years," said Monroe. MVPD had taken complaints about the business for five years.

Monroe continued "We had come to a standstill, we didn't have the manpower, so we reached out to BCI (Bureau of Criminal Investigation). They took the lead on the investigation.  During that investigation several MVPD officers assisted helping with surveillance, evidence collection, search warrants, and tagging evidence." 

Drugs, money, and guns were seized from that operation. It's been estimated that business did about a half million dollars of drug trade a year. The business has been shut down Chief Monroe couldn't give more information about the business or the particiulars of the case because it is still in litigation. 

Monroe says he couldn't decide on one person to give the award to saying based on "Their outstanding efforts and their long hours and extra time, the whole division deserves the award." The detectives are Sgt. Beth Marti, Cpl. James DeChant, and Det. Timothy Arnold.

Marti DeChant Arnold

L to R: MVPD Detectives Sgt. Beth Marti, Cpl James DeChant, and Timothy Arnold - KP Photo by Marty Trese    

Detective Sgt. Marti said, "Any award in this field is amazing. We hear a lot of negativity. Any time we're recognized for working hard it's really, really awesome." 

Detectives DeChant and Arnold said receiving the Bartlett award is a great honor.

Chief Monroe said "These guys did an outstanding job this year and the awards are well deserved."


East Knox Schools released from fiscal emergency

COLUMBUS – Auditor of State Dave Yost Tuesday released the East Knox Local School District (Knox County) from fiscal emergency, a status it held for more than two years.
The district spent a combined four and a half years shifting between fiscal caution, watch and emergency because of deficit fund balances and a failure to adopt and submit an acceptable financial recovery plan.
“Today, the district and its community can breathe a sigh of fiscal relief,” Auditor Yost said. “The decisions were not easy, but they were vital to the financial upswing the district is now experiencing.”
The district, which enrolls roughly 1,230 students, erased a projected $3.3 million deficit, in part, by reducing staff by 27 employees for approximately $1.5 million in annual savings. Also, the district is saving $144,000 each year from the closure of Bladensburg Elementary School, in addition to $19,000 by charging lunchroom utility costs to the food service fund instead of the general fund.
During the current fiscal year, the district will begin realizing added revenue from a 10-year, $1.2 million annual emergency levy passed on Nov. 8, 2016. The district also implemented a “pay to participate” fee for athletics, increasing revenue in the general fund by $50,000 each year. The fee will be phased out in fiscal year 2018.
Additionally, the district had to satisfy the following requirements to be terminated from fiscal emergency:
Effectively implement a financial accounting and reporting system in accordance with Section 118.10(A) of the Ohio Revised Code; Correct or eliminate all fiscal emergency conditions and prevent new ones from occurring;
Meet the objectives of the financial plan; and Prepare a five-year forecast in accordance with standards issued by the Auditor of State; the opinion expressed by the Auditor’s office is “nonadverse.”

The Ohio Department of Education placed the district in fiscal caution on Sept. 4, 2012 due to deficit fund balances. Auditor Yost declared the district in fiscal watch on Sept. 30, 2014 before elevating its status to fiscal emergency on Feb. 5, 2015 after it failed to adopt and submit an acceptable financial recovery plan.


Kaine at Kenyon: "Time for a woman president"

By Dylan McCament, KnoxPages.com Reporter

GAMBIER - Tim Kaine encouraged early voting and made his case for Hillary Clinton at a speech at Kenyon College on Thursday.
He spoke at the Kenyon Athletic Center to a lively crowd of several hundred people, largely composed of Kenyon students. Early in his speech, he spoke about the importance of U.S. voters electing the first woman president, adding that, historically, the country has a relatively poor record of voting women to federal office.

"When Hillary asked if I would be her running mate, one of the things that really excited me was the notion that I would be able to play this supporting role in what we hope would be a history-making election," Kaine said. "What a cool moment. You guys are lucky."
Kaine encouraged members of the audience to vote early. Student volunteers handed out information about early voting at the event.
He said that Ohio is a "check-mate" state: "If we win Ohio, we win this."

Kaine praised Clinton, stating he he can vouch that she has the "stamina, judgement, preparation and temperament to be a great president."
He said Clinton will fight for equal pay for women and for LGBT rights.

Kaine also spoke about Clinton's plan to make college more afforable and to help reduce the student loan debt problem in the nation, which would include forgiving some student loan debt or helping with more afforable refinancing options. He also spoke about the need to combat climate change as well as Clinton's commitment to LGBT rights.

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Democratic VP Candidate Tim Kaine speaks to a crowd of mostly college students at the Kenyon Athletic Center Thursday - KP Photo by Dylan McCament

"We are not just a party who just walks on by," Kaine said. "We are a party of people who rolls up their sleaves and gets to work."
He said that, despite the widespread inequalities of the era, the Founders were smart enough to make equality the "North Star," that gradually led to changes in the law that led to greater and greater equality.

Much of speech was spent criticising Donald Trump, who he said cannot really look at a woman and see an equal. He said Trump's insult-driven campaign has targeted everyone from Mexicans to Muslims to women.

"He has insulted every group," Kaine said. "If he has such a low opinion of us, he should not be running."

He attacked Trump's statement that the election is rigged and that he may not accept the Nov. 8 results.

"Trump said he will keep us all in suspense," Kaine said. "This is a country we're trying to run, not a reality T.V. show."
He said Trump's attacks on the U.S. election process itself are an insult to democracy, adding that that Ohio Governor John Kasich has called allegations that the election in Ohio is rigged a "big fat lie."

The vice presidential nominee also took a shot at Trump University, which he said was designed to cheat people out of money.

Towards the end of the speech, Kaine said that, despite early predictions of a Clinton victory, nothing can be taken for granted.
"The polls are looking good," he said. "But it could get a lot closer. Surprises happen."

Kaine also encouraged voters to get out of vote for other democratic candidates such as Ted Strickland who is running for Senate. He added that it would be much better for Clinton to have a Congress she can work with instead of one that is going to fight against her every single day.

Neighbor hears explosion before fire damages Apple Valley home

UPDATE - There are reports from that the fire reignited early Friday morning leveling the home. 

HOWARD - A home on Lakeview Heights sustained heavy damage Thursday morning.  Firefighters from the Eastern Knox County Joint Fire District and from Danville were on scene in the 11 a.m. hour. A neighbor told KnoxPages.com that the couple who lives there and their dog escaped the flames unharmed.  She says she heard an explosion and then the entire garage was on fire.

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Firefighters assess the damage after the fire on Lakeview Heights in Apple Valley this morning - KP Photo by Marty Trese

A section of Lakeview Heights was closed to traffic while fire crews were on the scene.  KP will pass along more information as it becomes available


Knox Addiction Conference educates on the hidden side of addiction

By Chase Strawser, KnoxPages.com Reporter 

GAMBIER - The Knox County Addiction Conference finished up Thursday after a two day event at the Kenyon College campus focused on educating the public about addiction and the devastation it can have on individuals, families, and communities. The conference, coordinated by the Knox Substance Abuse Action Team, also aimed to clear up any misconceptions about addiction by showing how everyday people can succumb to substance abuse under volatile circumstances.

Day two of the conference began with powerful testimonies from individuals who's lives were altered by addictive lifestyles. Adam Brenneman spoke to conference members about how he spiraled from alcohol use to drug use despite a level upbringing and productive formative years of good grades and athletics. While in college, initial caution towards addictive substances caved in to frequent use and even dealing illegal substances. While getting sober, Brenneman talked about the importance of focusing on one's self when fighting addiction. He said, "I need to stay sober for myself so I can be there for them [his family]. Recovery from addiction needs to be self-motivated to be effective rather than just a process of giving in to the pressures of others.

Jessi Clinger confided to the conference her addiction to alcohol and battle with an eating disorder. Along with impairing her ability to function in her everyday life, Jessi's addiction also adversely affected those close to her, inhibiting her ability to take care for her son. Jessi commented on how far a person can let addiction deteriorate them before they seek help. In a powerful statement she said, "I had to give up in order to live." Meaning she had to let go of addiction's hold on her as a sign of strength and acceptance rather that weakness. Jessi's has found strength in spirituality while rebuilding her life in the wake of addiction. She said, "Without my faith, I would not be who I am today."

Kristina Foreman gradually fell into an addictive lifestyle despite having drug free examples in her parents. Experimentation with alcohol when she was younger snowballed into heavier substance use with heroin. She commented about the false sense of self-security drug abuse can provide. She said, "What I thought was the solution to the problem became even more of a problem for me." Having completed a nursing degree, but rendered unable to pursue it while controlled by addiction, she went on to complete a Master's in Social Work from The Ohio State University. She counsel's people with drug dependency with The Freedom Center in Knox County, being able to sympathize with patients having been in a similar position.

These testimonies have shown that even people from solid family backgrounds can develop addictive habits. Courtney Decosky also had a supportive family grounding before alcoholism became prevalent in her life. Decosky described herself as being able to maintain a high functioning, busy life while her alcohol consumption compromised her health behind the scenes. Decosky mentioned a warning her mother gave her about her consumption. She said," My mother took me aside and said, 'Courtney, you are playing Russian roulette.'" Her mother, friends at her job, and outpatient treatment in Richmond, Virginia were instrumental in her recovery process. While still living an active life with theatre, music, and her Administrative Assistant to the Office of the President at Kenyon College, she warned that anything can be an addiction, even seemingly harmless things like caffeine and the need to always stay busy.

Of the many important presentations, Kay Spergel's presentation, The Impact of Untreated Depression and Anxiety, pointed out the connection between mental health problems and substance abuse. Many people with undiagnosed mental illnesses resort to self medicating with drugs and resulting in inadvertent dependency. Spergel also discussed how mental illnesses need to be treated with the same importance and immediate care as more obvious physical health problems. Substance abusers would benefit from recommendations to adequate professional sources of healthcare rather than self-medication.

Mark Hurst's presentation, Creating Environments of Resiliency and Hope, showed the correlation between early childhood trauma and risk factors later in life, like substance abuse. Similar to Spergel's presentation, the factors in developing drug dependency may not be immediately obvious and require more extensive evaluation than what can be perceived on the surface.

The many topics of the conference aligned with the purpose of substituting any misinformation and insufficient information on addiction the public may have with enlightening facts.

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