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Mount Vernon, Knox County, Ohio

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Armory transformed to The Escape Zone community center

By Marty Trese, KnoxPages.com Editor

MOUNT VERNON - The armory at 1 Mansfield Avenue had stood vacant for years. Back in 1931 the building was dedicated as the State Armory, the new home of hospital company, 136, Ohio National Guard. In the 1970's the upstairs gym was used for high school dances on the weekends. On Friday the ribbon was cut on the building which has been renovated to become The Escape Zone community center.

 The Escape Zone is a Christ-centered, multidenominational organization that provdes a fun, friendly, safe environment for all youth.  Those involved in the facility say the self-worth of youth, their quality of life, community involvement, moral values, and faith in Christ will be enriched through building relationships and participating in activities.  

Terry Walter is the president of the Escape Zone. He told KnoxPages.com that the building has 13,000 square feet of recreational space for kids of all ages.  They will be offering basketball, foosball, ping poing, Wii games and several other kinds of activities.  The gym on the second floor has a stage area which was renovated by the current Leadership Knox class. Walter said, "We wouldn't have pulled this off without funding and volunteers." Walter says the next step is to hire a director and recruit volunteers to oversee the facility. The goal is to have the building open 7 days a week.

 

Escape Zone ribbon cut Knox Chamber Tina Cockrell

Ribbon cutting at the Escape Zone on Friday. L to R: Ryan Dillworth, Cong. Bob Gibbs office; Michelle Turner, Dean's Jewelry; Terry Walter, Escape Zone board president, Mark Ramser, building owner; Jan Reynolds, Ariel Foundation Executive Director; Lisa Behr, Community Foundation of Mount Vernon and Knox County; Karen Bush, Secretary, Escape Zone board, Marc Odenweller, Community Foundation of Mount Vernon and Knox County, Carol Grubaugh, Executive Director Knox County Chamber of Commerce - photo courtesy Knox Chamber, Tina Cockrell.

The Escape Zone is a ministry started by people who saw a need for a safe, Christian place for the youth of Knox County to meet.

The Organizing Committee met from October, 1999 to June 2000. A building at 316 S. Main St. was rented on June 5th and the Grand Opening of the Escape Zone was in June, 2000. 

Armory gym

The Escape Zone gym  - KP Photo by Marty Trese

The building was renovated for the 15 year anniversary but within a year there was a thought to find a new location.  After much searching and prayer they found themselves in the center circle of the gym on the 2nd floor of the Armory building asking for God's direction. The plan was presented to the buiding owner, Mark Ramser, and he and several community foundations and individuals provided the funds for the renovation.

The facility is open to everyone. You can follow The Escape Zone on Facebook.

 

MTVarts receives recognition for mural

MOUNT VERNON -  MTVarts, an all-volunteer, non-profit organization providing entertainment to the Knox County community held an Open House Thursday evening for supporters at its warehouse on Ohio Avenue.

The occasion was marked with a presentation from the Knox Landmarks Foundation for the historic downtown mural which was painted on the west facing wall of the MTVarts warehouse last year by local artist John Donnelly. The plaque says "Celebrating all of Knox County Performing Arts, commissioned by the Knox County Renaissance Foundation with support from Ariel Foundation."

 

MTV arts mural plaque

L to R: Janis Stone, MTVarts; Tom Fish, Knox Landmarks Foundation; Bruce Jacklin, MTVarts;  Artist John Donnelly, Jan Reynolds, Ariel Foundation; Jeff Gottke, Knox Landmarks Foundation. - Photo submitted by Scott Swingle, MTVarts/Westie Productions

 

 

Update: Sushi restaurant corrects violations uncovered in Health Dept. inspection

By Marty Trese, KnoxPages.com Editor

MOUNT VERNON - Ichiban Sushi & Hibachi restaurant on Coshocton Road was shut down  as of 1 p.m. Wednesday by order of the Knox County Health Commissioner following an inspection which turned up several violations.

UPDATE Thursday afternoon: The Health Department revisited the business and the issues have been resolved.  The restaurant was cleared to re-open.

 

 

 

Local People: new interventional cardiologist Dr. Alix Tercius joins KCH

MOUNT VERNON - Alix Tercius, MD, FACC, RPVI, has recently joined the staff of Knox Community Hospital Department of Specialty Care—Cardiology. Dr. Tercius is board-certified in internal medicine and interventional cardiology and joins the practice of Dr. Barry George and Dr. G. Rasa in the Knox Medical Pavilion.

Dr. Tercius completed an interventional cardiology fellowship at The Ohio State University, as well as a cardiology fellowship at Aurora Health Care, in Milwaukee, WI. He received his medical degree from The Ohio State University.

KCH AlixTercius

Dr. Alix Tercius, MD - photo submitted

He most recently practiced in Chillicothe, and looks forward to providing the best care available to the patients of Knox Community Hospital. For more information or to make an appointment, please call 740.397.5400

Get ready to pay more for wastewater, water service in Mount Vernon

By Cheryl Splain, KnoxPages.com Reporter

MOUNT VERNON — With around $6 million looming in EPA-mandated expenses, Councilman Sam Barone warned city residents to expect a series of increases in wastewater rates.

During a Utilities Committee meeting held Monday night prior to City Council's legislative session, Barone cited aging infrastructure needs, increasingly demanding EPA orders and the need for solvency as reasons behind the rate hikes. He said that “trying to live according to the culture of this city and deferring increases until absolutely necessary” has been negated by the EPA's requirement for phosphorus abatement.

“There's absolutely no way the city will be able to make these mandated improvements,” he said. “As good stewards, we have stretched our wastewater dollars as far as we can.”

Barone, who is chairman of the city's Finance and Budget Committee, said it is not a question of when but how to implement the rate increases. He favors an incremental approach: raising rates effective April 1, assessing where the city stands after evaluating what is needed for the phosphorus abatement, and then increasing rates over the next few years as needed. “By the year's end we will have a better grasp on what our phosphorus magnitude will be,” he said.

Warning residents that the April rate hike won't be the end and that there will be rate hikes in 2018, 2019 and 2020, Barone said, “I would like to see those be more measured and give council the opportunity to assess and set rates appropriately. I don't want to overreach and overcharge our citizens.”

Barone said that in comparison, Fredericktown and Gambier residents pay about three times what Mount Vernon residents pay for wastewater and water. Compared to cities in southwestern Ohio, Mount Vernon is in the lowest quartile of rates. “We obviously don't need to be in the top, but the lowest quartile is not appropriate,” he said.

The city last raised wastewater rates in 2011. State law requires the city to raise money for the water/wastewater services. “My feeling is that council needs to act effective April 1 so that the first billing in July we will start to collect at the accelerated rate,” Barone said, adding that he does not want a retroactive rate hike. This time frame gives residents the chance to adjust their usage if needed.

Councilman John Booth, chairman of the Utilities Committee, agreed with the incremental approach. “The cupboards are bare and I think we need to move quickly,” he said.

Council President Bruce Hawkins raised three questions:
Why only a wastewater rate hike?
Is the rate hike enough to take care of the decaying infrastructure or is more money needed?
Why has the city collected less in 2017 vs 2012?

Booth responded that the city council has no jurisdiction over water rates; the safety-service director sets those rates. Joel Daniels, SSD, said that water rates will also increases this year, although probably not as much as the wastewater rates.

Barone said that the rate hike begins to cover infrastructure repairs, but it will principally go toward covering the EPA-mandated improvements. “Once we're over the hump with the most expensive phosphorus mandate improvements, it will enable us to deal with some of these other things,” he said.

Scott explained that when wastewater users only fail to pay their bill, the city places a lien on their property. Previously, when the property was sold or the individual paid, the lien was satisfied first, and then the taxes. Several years ago the county reversed that policy; now, taxes get paid first and the liens second. Scott said that the money will eventually come in, but there is no way to predict when.

Councilwoman Nancy Vail said that according to a member of the group studying city finances, residents will pay more over time with incremental increases vs. a big increase up front. Booth said a big upfront increase places a burden on low-income residents and that building to a higher rate is more conducive.

Barone said that in the end, both approaches reach the $6 million needed. Gradual increases gives council a “checkpoint year after year,” and if a big increase is not needed, council can pull it back.

Booth favors a two-year increase; Barone favors a one-year increase, noting that one year gives the city time to complete the phosphorus engineering study and have more precise data moving forward. Auditor Terry Scott agreed. “Because it's unknown and uncertain what this phosphorus will cost, you need to get all of the facts you can and then make a decision,” Scott said.

The rate hikes also affects Clinton Township residents because the township has a wastewater agreement with the city. Council will hold another Utilities Committee meeting prior to its next council session.

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