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Mount Vernon, Knox County, Ohio

Local Government

Reducing flooding the focus of meeting with officials, schools, and non-profits

By Cheryl Splain, KnoxPages.com Reporter

MOUNT VERNON — Local officials gathered Thursday to review progress made on the county's plan to reduce flooding in the area. Representatives from law enforcement, local municipalities, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Knox Community Hospital, Mount Vernon City Schools and nonprofit organizations attended.

Mark Maxwell, county Emergency Management Agency director, said there are four aspects of emergency management: preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation. “Often we are so focused on preparedness and response that we don't get to the recovery and mitigation as often as we should,” he said.

Mitigation (reducing the severity of or preventing) of flooding is important. “For every $1 we spend in mitigation, we save $4 in repair and recovery,” said Sandy Hovest of Resource Solutions, who facilitated the review. “We need to look at mitigation as our wellness check.”

Hovest also said that one in four small businesses close and never reopen after disaster damages.

Resource Solutions wrote the county's flood mitigation strategy in 2014. Federal guidelines require an annual review of the plan. Participants broke into work groups to review goals, assess progress and note any strategies that need to be added or removed.

One goal is to update flood maps and adopt, appeal or modify FEMA revisions. Brian Ball, engineer for the City of Mount Vernon, noted that FEMA is still working from a 1977 flood plain model. An example of changes from the model is that the channel of Dry Creek is probably 10 foot deeper than in 1977 and can handle more flood waters. Because of these kinds of changes, homes in the city's west end have to opt out individually. It would be better, Ball said, for FEMA to update its model rather than putting the burden on homeowners.

Another goal is to raise sections of roads and bridges that flood on a regular basis. Ball said this is being planned for the Mount Vernon Avenue bridge replacement slated for 2019. Improvements to Blackberry Alley, the city's tree removal program, an increase in the city's utility rates to improve water and sewer infrastructure, examining natural dams to alleviate problems downstream and underground power and utility lines in new neighborhoods are other efforts that comply with the mitigation plan.

Centerburg Mayor Dave Beck said the goals set for the village are at different levels of being completed. “You're never really comfortable; you're always afraid you'll forget something,” he said. “You have to be vigilant and keep on top of situations.”

Beck said an ongoing goal is working with property owners to keep brush and other debris from flowing downstream. Retention ponds to hold runoff waters are a part of the village's subdivision regulations, resident communication is done through the county's alert system and the village works with the Red Cross to identify shelter locations and comfort stations during disasters.

One goal that Beck said needs improved on is identifying and communicating with special populations within the village regarding disasters, warnings and response. “We probably need to do this little more. We have a lot of convalescent homes in the community,” he said.

From the county's perspective, Commissioner Thom Collier said “A lot of things we have done or we are in the process of doing, and we've made great advancements since this plan was created.” He noted that relationships with groups such as the Army Corps of Engineers, ODNR, townships and Knox Soil and Water District enable the county to complete a lot of the goals listed in the plan.

Hovest said that future FEMA requirements for mitigation plans include more specific weather, flooding and natural hazard definitions and descriptions, plans for maintaining a quality water supply, and a more formal community collaboration hierarchy chart rather than informal relationships such as Knox County has.

“You are doing more than you think,” she told the group. “You are making mitigation part of your normal business. The solutions you are coming up with are not boiler plate; they are creative.”

Early voting underway for May 2 special election

MOUNT VERNON - The May special election is coming up May 2 but early voting is available now for those who will be unable to vote election day or just want to vote early. There are three easy ways to cast your ballot.

1. In person at the Board of Elections office 

2. Receive a ballot by mail by calling the BOE office at 740-393-6716

3. Vote at the polls on election day.

Hours for early/absentee voting:

Through April 21
• 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on each weekday (Monday through Friday)

April 24-April 30
• 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on each weekday (Monday through Friday)
• 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on the Saturday before Election Day
• 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on the Sunday before Election Day

Week of Election Day May 1
• 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on the Monday before Election Day

Here is the ballot list for Knox County May 2:

Central Ohio Joint Fire District replacement levy, 5.5 mills for 3 years

Eastern Knox County Joint Fire District renewal levy, 5 mills for 4 years.

Morris Township replacement fire levy 4 mills for 3 years

Mount Vernon City School District levy renewing two existing levies 6.4 mills for 5 years

North Fork Local School District 1% renewal income tax for 3 years (overlap with Licking County)

Northridge Local School District .75% income tax for 30 years for permanent improvements and $14.6 million bond issue for 2.9 mills toward a new elementary school and improvements to existing buildings (overlap with Licking County)

Mount Vernon Town Hall: Drugs and our Community series announced

MOUNT VERNON – The office of Mayor Richard Mavis has announced the details for “Town Hall: Drugs and our Community,” an awareness and prevention collaboration series.

Local leaders in partnership with local law enforcement, members of the judicial system, and area recovery programs will present the series. The programs are an opportunity for the citizens of Mount Vernon and the Knox County area to obtain a first-hand perspective into the drug epidemic and crime trends associated with our community. The series will promote an open dialog with local leaders, first responders and court and recovery personnel to bridge a solution to this vast drug related epidemic.

This four part Town Hall series is free and open to the public. All sessions will be offered at Twin Oak Elementary School at 888 Martinsburg Road, Mount Vernon, Ohio.

For more information about the Town Hall series, please contact the following offices:

Mayor Richard Mavis at 740-393-9517 or mtvmayor @mountvernonohio.org or David Priest, Chief Probation Officer for Mount Vernon Municipal court at 740-393-9555 or [email protected]

Each session will begin at 6:30 p.m. and end at 8:00 p.m.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017 – Drug Awareness and the Local Drug Culture.  Detectives will provide a first-hand look into the drug culture sweeping through our community.

Thursday, May 11, 2017 – Crime Prevention, Crime Trends (fraud, scams, theft), Neighborhood Watch Programs, Community Safety.

Thursday, May 18, 2017 – The Court Perspective and Judicial Process. Through a panel discussion hear a local judicial perspective as it relates to crime, punishment, and addiction recovery.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017 – Community Recovery and Addiction Resources.  Learn about recovery services and resources currently available to citizens of Knox County

Each session will include a question and answer session and prescription drug collection point.

MVMS and city honor Arbor Day

By Dylan McCament, KnoxPages.com Reporter

MOUNT VERNON - On Friday, over 100 middle school students shouted: "We love trees!"

Students, city officials and teachers gathered outside the Mount Vernon Middle School yesterday to celebrate Arbor Day and to recognize two students who won a writing contest with an Arbor Day theme.

Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Mavis praised middle school teachers for efforts to educate students about Arbor Day and thanked members of the city's Shade Tree and Beautification Commission. The commission donated seven trees to the school, which were recently planted on the campus near the location of the gathering.

"Trees, wherever they are planted, are a source of joy and spiritual renewal," Mavis said. "I urge all citizens to celebrate Arbor Day and support efforts to protect our trees and woodlands. I urge all our citizens to plant trees to gladden the heart and promote the well-being of this and future generations."

Mavis presented the proclamation to Megan Burley-Durbin, seventh grade math teacher at the middle school, organized the ceremony and helped other teachers incorporate Arbor Day activities into their classwork.

Two Middle School students - Elizabeth Diehl and Annabel Waggoner - were honored for winning a nature-themed writing contest, of which there were 48 participants. Diehl, who won for poetry, and Waggoner, who won for a narrative, both read aloud their pieces at the gathering.

Arbor Day 2017 Mavis Diehl et al

Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Mavis, left, Mount Vernon Middle School students Elizabeth Diehl and Annabel Waggoner as well as middle school math teacher Megan Burley-Durbin stand before a newly-planted tree on the school's campus. Students, teachers and city leaders gathered at the school to recognize Arbor Day and to honor Diehl and Waggoner, who were were both winners of an Arbor Day writing contest.
KP Photo by Dylan McCament

"Lilly sat in front of her cherry tree, feeling the warm grass between her fingers," Waggoner read, reciting the first lines of her narrative. "The sounds of the waterfall trickling into a nearby pond was like a sweet melody, and she smiled she leaned against the rough bark of her cherry tree and closed her eyes."

In the first seven lines of her poem, Silver Branches, Diehl read: "My first thought, when I saw you/Twilight was on its way/Taking its way, slow and steady/And I just stared/Beginning Blooms shone/Pink, gold."

Jim Brown, chairman of the Shade Tree and Beautification Commission, said that the seven donated trees were planted in the perfect location, near the newly-constructed Outdoor Learning Center, a pavilion located on the middle school's lawn. He praised efforts of school and city officials to support activities that educate future leaders on the importance of protecting trees and forests.

Brown said that a plaque will be placed before each of the seven trees, indicating their genus, species and Latin name. He added that, in time, these trees will provide shade for future middle school students.

The names of the seven trees are: Shagbark Hickory, Kentucky Coffee Tree, Homestead Elm, Silky Sassafras, Bald Cypress, and two June Snow Dogwoods.

Morris Township Fire to have levy on May ballot

FREDERICKTOWN - Morris Township Trustees filed with the Board of Elections to place a 4 mill replacement levy on the May 2nd ballot for those living in Precinct B of the township. The township contracts with Mount Vernon City to provide Fire and EMS services for the southern portion of the township. This area is located in the Mount Vernon City School District. Precinct A, the northern section of the township, is covered by the Fredericktown EMS and Fredericktown Fire District. This includes the part of the township that is in the Fredericktown Local School District.

The 4 mill replacement levy will generate about $120,000 per year for Fire and EMS services to be provided to the southern portion of the township. This levy is for a three year period starting January 1, 2018. Because of the close proximity to the City, the township made the decision several years ago to contract for services with Mount Vernon because of shorter response time.

Should any Township resident have questions regarding the levy, they are encouraged to attend the next meeting of the Township Trustees on Monday, May 1 at 6:00 pm at the Township House on Beckley Road. Any of the trustees, Dan Humphrey, Dick Kershner, or Terry Maloney would welcome a phone call to answer questions.

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