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Mount Vernon, Knox County, Ohio

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Substance Abuse Town Hall brings community together

By Marty Trese, KnoxPages.com Editor


MOUNT VERNON – A physician, a college student, a drug user, and other community members came together Tuesday evening for a town hall meeting and a call for action about substance abuse. The event was organized by the Knox County Democratic Women and held at the public library. The non-partisan event featured presentations by Mount Vernon School Superintendent Bill Seder, Jeff Williams, Executive Director of The Freedom Center and Municipal Court Judge John Thatcher.

Thatcher et al

Municipal Court Judge John Thatcher, left, Jeff Williams, Executive Director of The Freedom Center; center, and Bill Seder, Mount Vernon City Schools Superintendent at Wednesday night's town hall on substance abuse - KnoxPages.com photo by Marty Trese

Seder began his remarks by talking about high school dropouts and said he made it a policy that any student who wishes to drop out has to meet with him personally. Seder asks what is going on with them. He has heard stories about abuse and parental neglect.  He then relayed information discovered in a survey of 17,000 people on adverse childhood experiences or ACES.  The study found that the higher number of ACES the higher the potential for drug use.  Some of the ACES are:

  • Abuse-Psychological (by parents), Physical (by parents), Sexual (anyone)
  • Neglect-Emotional, physical
  • Household Dysfunction – Alcoholism or drug use in the home, loss of biological parent by age 18, depression or mental illness in home, mother treated violently, imprisoned household member

Seder shared that some Mount Vernon School district students eat breakfast and lunch at school and those are their only meals for the day. 54% of students receive free and reduced lunch, that is up 6% from a year ago. The district has 4,000 students and next year three social workers will start working in the elementary schools.

Williams shared that The Freedom Center is open to anyone seeking help with addiction. There are many community treatment options. Those include:

  • Detox
  • Residential (none in Knox County currently)
  • Intensive Outpatient
  • Outpatient

Community members can help by becoming involved with KSAAT, Knox Substance Abuse Action Team. The coalition recently received a drug free communities grant and now employs a coordinator who oversees the Youth, Adult and Community committees of KSAAT.  You can learn more about the coalition on their Facebook page.

Thatcher shared that last Friday Mount Vernon Municipal Court received final certification from the Ohio Supreme Court for a MERIT drug court. MERIT stands for Mandated Education and Referral into Treatment.  The court kept seeing the same offenders over and over again. Sometimes offenders will have a felony, a misdemeanor, and a child custody issue all going on at the same time.

The purpose of drug court is to try to reduce the costs to the public and protect the public from the offenders’ future crimes. The drug court involves four phases, the first of which requires offenders to attend weekly meetings, undergo drug screenings, and attend Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous meetings daily. During this initial phase offenders can’t be employed so they can spend time working on themselves. Offenders work through the program and it can take a year or more. Another part of drug court is MERIT-V, the V stands for the drug vivitrol.  This drug blocks the effects of heroin and alcohol.  

Following the presentations, a physician talked about opiate prescribing practices, a woman who said she is a drug user said more needs to be done to reach those using drugs in our community and a college student who has worked at Knox Commmunity Hospital said drug abusers are frequent visitors to the emergency department. 

While the substance abuse problem is enormous, last night's meeting was a worthwhile effort to bring about more awareness and possible solutions. 



Around Ohio: Pike County murder investigation update


PIKETON - Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader have released the following update in the ongoing investigation into the execution-style killings of eight members of the Rhoden family in Pike County:

Sixty-one additional items of evidence have been sent to the Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) crime laboratory for DNA, ballistics, latent print, and trace analysis.  These items are in addition to the 18 high-priority items submitted for testing previously, for a total of 79 pieces of evidence.

Additional search warrants were served yesterday in connection with the investigation, however the number of search warrants and locations are not being released at this time.

Since Friday, more than 300 tips have been received by both BCI and the Pike County Sheriff's Office, all of which are being investigated.  Authorities continue to request that those with information call 855-BCI-OHIO (224-6446) or 740-947-2111.
To date, more than 215 law enforcement officials have contributed to the investigation.  From the Attorney General's Office this includes: special agents, analysts, prosecutors, and laboratory personnel.  This also includes authorities from the Pike County Sheriff's Office, Pike County Prosecutor's Office, Pike County and Hamilton County coroner's offices, and additional manpower from 23 sheriff's offices and other law enforcement agencies, including significant assistance from the Piketon Police Department. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) are also providing limited assistance on an as-needed basis.

Dogs rescued from burning barn in Howard


By Marty Trese, KnoxPages.com Editor


HOWARD – Sunday night, the Eastern Knox County Joint Fire District was dispatched to the area of Schenck Creek Road and Coshocton Road which was called in by a passer by at 10:04 pm and arrived two minutes later to find a well involved barn fire at the Lawson residence on Schenck Creek Road.

The first engine pulled lines to extinguish fire while also attempting rescue of three dogs from an attached kennel to the burning structure.

The fire was contained to the structure with an estimated loss of $25,000, along with melted siding on an adjacent structure.

Mutual aid from College Township Fire Department with an engine and tanker, Bladensburg with an engine and Mount Vernon Fire Department with a medic.

EKCJFD Chief Larry Stimpert says the fire started in the southeast corner of the structure where there was possibly an operating heat lamp.

Crews were on the scene until 2:11 am this morning.

An online account has been established to raise funds for the Lawson family who lost mowers, tractors, and weight equipment. Additionally, the dogs who were rescued need veterinarian treatment.

Knox County Health Dept. to seek federal grant for health center

By Cheryl Splain, KnoxPages.com reporter


MOUNT VERNON — Greater accessibility to health care is on the horizon if the Knox County Health Department receives the designation of a federally qualified health center.

“A federally qualified health center is a center that serves anybody in the community, and it has to provide physical health care, behavioral health care, dental health care and social service resources,” Health Commissioner Julie Miller told city council members on Monday. “We fully expect to be awarded the federal monies.”

The grant application is due July 15. A center board has been meeting since December to start the process. Miller said that becoming a federally qualified health center brings a number of benefits:


  • Jobs for Mount Vernon and Knox County
  • A grant income, guaranteed for life, of $650,000 for operations
  • Enhanced reimbursement from Medicaid
  • Waiver of liability for health care providers
  • Forgiveness of student loans if the health care provider practices in the center for two to four years
  • Service for everyone regardless of inability to pay
  • Fills a gap in health care for Knox, Coshocton, Holmes and Guernsey counties
  • “So there are a lot of benefits outside of my passion that everybody in this community has access to good health care,” she said. “It’s not that we don’t have it, we just don’t have everybody receiving access to it.”

Miller will be chief executive officer of the center; her goal is to hire a chief operating officer so that she can concentrate on her health commissioner duties.

Miller also told council that on May 21 the KCHD will “push the button” for national accreditation. There are 11 accredited departments in Ohio. “We hope to be in probably the next 10,” she said, adding that the department expects to submit about 700 documents in addition to undergoing a site visit.

  • Other highlights from Miller’s report include:
  • A reduction in animal bites in the city between 2014 and 2015, although Miller said there are too many unvaccinated animals in the county
  • Financial stability
  • A reduction in immunizations in 2015 compared to 2014 because there was no measles outbreak
  • An increase in nuisance investigations
  • A new dentist has been hired for the dental clinic; the department is recruiting another dentist.
  • Home health is doing well but it is difficult to get reimbursement.
  • Drug Take-Back Day is April 30.

Miller gave a few tips on how to prevent the Zika virus: Wear long sleeves and long pants when outside, use insect repellant with DEET and avoid having standing water in birdbaths, tires and gutters.


MVNU, City of Mount Vernon partner to restructure tennis courts at Memorial Park

MOUNT VERNON — This May, Mount Vernon Nazarene University, in conjunction with the City of Mount Vernon, will work to resurface and restripe the tennis courts at Memorial Park in Mount Vernon. The public tennis courts will be closed for approximately three weeks for the work, which will also include the construction of youth tennis courts and work to strengthen and stabilize the fencing.

“The City of Mount Vernon has experienced a major increase in the number of young people participating in our summer tennis program.  The addition of youth tennis courts to the six existing adult courts will create training and playing opportunities that we’ve never had previously available.  Also, we appreciate the leadership for this project provided by Mount Vernon Nazarene University in coordination with their construction of a campus tennis complex,” said Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Mavis.

These additions will provide the youth of Knox County the ability to enjoy a maintained space that is specifically designed with them in mind, within the proximity of the existing tennis courts and Memorial Park.

“From the beginning of this project, the University approached these efforts as a community project, and not just a new sports venue for the campus.  They have shown the same care and dedication to the Memorial Park initiative as they have to their own tennis center,” said Steve Tier, President, Kokosing Valley Community Tennis Association and Tennis Director for Mount Vernon City’s Recreation Board.

“My involvement has been motivated by the desire to provide facilities and opportunities that make tennis more accessible and attractive to youth players so that, eventually, the quality and appeal of the Mount Vernon High School tennis programs would be elevated. I am thankful that the University embraced this goal by offering their eight court complex as the new home for Yellow Jacket tennis starting this coming fall. This project would not have been possible without the University’s efforts,” he added.

With funds from the “Seek to Serve” campaign, MVNU plans to begin work on the addition of new tennis courts across the street from the main Martinsburg Road campus later this year.

For more information on the “Seek to Serve” campaign, visit mvnu.edu/iwill.

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