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Mount Vernon, Knox County, Ohio

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Kenyon Commencement speaker Shaka Smart - "Choose what makes you come alive"

 By Marty Trese, KnoxPages.com Editor

GAMBIER - 445 members of the Class of 2017 were recognized at Kenyon's 189th Commencement ceremony Saturday morning which was held inside the Kenyon Athletic Center. The featured speaker was Kenyon alum Shaka Smart from the class of 1999. Smart has become one of the best-known basketball coaches of his generation. He currently coaches at University of Texas after holding coaching positions at Virginia Commonwealth University, Clemson, Florida, Dayton and Akron. At Kenyon, Smart majored in history and graduated magna cum laude and with high honors. He earned multiple records for assists during the 1996 and 1999 seasons as well as recognition as the the North Coast Athletic Conference's Scholar-Athlete of the Year for 1999.

During his commencement address Smart shared that the day was also his 11th wedding anniversary and his wife and daughter accompanied him to Gambier. As he began his remarks he proclaimed, "You made it!" After sharing some of his experiences at Kenyon as a student he told the class of 2017, "The world needs you to choose what makes you come alive."

And he said that feedback, though often negative - is food. He continued, "There's always a chance to re-calibrate, you need not be perfect."

Honorary degrees were given to Kathryn L. Edwards, John M. Elliott, Linda D. Metzler, Smart, and Hideo Tomita.

Kenyon commencement 1 2017

Friends and family joined the class of 2017 for Kenyon's commencement at the KAC Saturday  - KP Photo

Kenyon Youtube video of Smart's address:

Brush with Kindness volunteers spruce up West High Street properties

By Marty Trese, KnoxPages.com Editor

MOUNT VERNON - Volunteers organized by Habitat for Humanity teamed up for Brush with Kindness Saturday morning to do yard work for residents along West High Street. Habitat for Humanity president Tonya Boucher said there were three teams from Kiwanis, Lifepoint Church and Habitat out working to spruce up the neighborhood. Ron and Barbi Kennedy's home was one of the properties to receive a facelift. Volunteers planted rose busehes, daylilies, coral bells and spread mulch.  Barbi said to have the volunteers come out, "..was a blessing."

Kindness May 2017 B

L to R: Ron Kennedy, Barbi Kennedy,Team Habitat members Tonya Gallagher, Chris O'Quin, and Gayle Keller - KP Photo

Another Habitat for Humanity Brush with Kindness event is planned for later this year.  

Fox sentenced after conviction on assault on 6 year old


MOUNT VERNON - Mount Vernon Director of Law Rob Broeren announced that on May 19, 2017, a jury in the Mount Vernon Municipal Court convicted James E. Fox III of Fredericktown, Ohio of Domestic Violence and Assault after a two-day jury trial. The charges arose out of an incident that occurred on February 5, 2017. Mr. Fox struck a 6-year old in the face, loosening a front tooth and slitting the child's bottom lip.

Assistant Director of Law Brittany Whitney tried the case to the jury. She presented testimony of Deputy Sheriff Tim Knell and Detective Sergeant Dan Bobo of  the Knox County Sheriff’s Office, the 6-year old victim, the victim’s 7-year old half-sister, a school counselor, and a RN from Nationwide Children’s Hospital.


The jury deliberated for less than three hours before returning the guilty verdicts. Judge John C. Thatcher ordered Mr. Fox to serve 180 days in jail with 90 days suspended on the following conditions: that the Defendant serve a term of probation for three years, complete a Batterer’s Intervention Program, and have no contact with the victim or her mother pursuant to an ex-parte Civil Protection Order issued by the Knox County Court of
Common Pleas. The Court also assessed a $500 fine and ordered Mr. Fox to pay the costs of the prosecution in this matter.

For purposes of sentencing, the Assault charge merged into the Domestic Violence charge.

Mr. Fox was represented by Attorney Andrew Wick.


Recovery stories shared with Women United

By Marty Trese, KnoxPages.com Editor

MOUNT VERNON - Sobriety stories were shared and applauded Friday morning at the first Women in Recovery Breakfast sponsored by Women United, a United Way of Knox County program.

Georgette Burritt, Women's Program Coordinator and Licensed Social Worker at The Freedom Center, introduced two women she counsels in recovery. Bayliss said, "Every woman that comes in there (The Freedom Center) is an inspiration to me. I've seen them overcome struggles and hardships..and become a better person than maybe they would have been if they had never had some of these challenges in life." 

Erica and Georgia

Erica Bayless, left, and Freedom Center counselor Georgette Burrit at Friday's Women in Recovery Breakfast - KP Photo

Erica Bayless, 31, of Mount Vernon said she has been 9 months sober after many years of substance abuse, jail, and rehab. A bright, enthusiastic woman, Erica told KnoxPages.com that she was happy to openly talk about her experience without anonymity.  Erica came from a good home with a loving mother. Her parents were divorced and owned a local bar. In 2008, Erica had a 3 month old baby and a good job when she fell at work and received a doctor's prescription for pain pills. She stayed on the pain pills for eight months and then turned to street drugs. In 2010 she was charged with her first felony and a judge sent her to rehab, where she stayed for three months and walked out. In 2011 she was charged with a different felony and put in drug court in Franklin County and put on medication assisted therapy, or MAT, to help her get through cravings and triggers. Despite that she went back to using.

In 2015 Erica said she was empty inside, broken and beaten and faced another felony for drug possession. She took off.

"When they found me the judge said you need to see the inside of a prison," said Erica. She was sentenced to 18 months and while behind bars she went through withdrawl and her mind became clear.  She asked herself , "How did I get here again? something's gotta change - I have two young kids."

Following that revelation she was rleeased after 4 months, sent to a relapse prevention class and a halfway house in Mansfield.  After 4 months there she was allowed to go home.  Now she visits the Freedom Center regularly for counseling and has been sober for more than a year.  She started a new job as restaurant server a couple of months ago and likes it.

Another woman in recovery, Barb, shared that she is feeling free now that she is in recovery and said she loves Knox County. 

Request for an increase in guardian ad litem fees made to county commissioners

By Cheryl Splain, KnoxPages.com Reporter


MOUNT VERNON — In January, when the Knox County commissioners adopted the Ohio Public Defender's reimbursement schedule for appointed counsel in indigent cases, it included reduced fees for guardian ad litems (GALs) in juvenile cases. Probate/Juvenile Judge Jennifer Springer, Magistrate Jay Nixon and GAL attorney Christina Reiheld met with the commissioners on Thursday, requesting an increase in GAL fees.

In 2001, the state raised the reimbursement rate for GALs from $45 an hour to $65. Effective in January, the new fee schedule cut that to $50 for out-of-court services and $60 for in-court services. Nixon requested a reimbursement rate of $75 from the commissioners, and at the very least, a restoration of the $65 per hour rate.

Nixon said that being a GAL is a much harder job than representing a client in a criminal matter, which usually involves one or two court appearances and meetings with the client in a controlled setting such as a jail or courthouse. In the course of their investigation, state law requires GALs to visit the child's home, which is often a dangerous, unknown situation, and interview the parents, who are often combative and involved with substance abuse.

“GALS are the eyes and ears of the court,” said Springer. “This is not something where it's a normal client-attorney situation. They are very, very important and also required by law. It's no easy task walking into a situation where you have no idea what you are getting into.”

Reiheld said that GALs sometimes “walk in blind” on home visits. She has encountered situations where drugs are involved and the parents may or may not be high, unsanitary conditions that include lice, filth and the need to shower and wash clothes immediately after the visit, domestic violence issues between the parents and mental health issues. “So you really don't know what you are walking into,” she said.

“It's a situation that can be fraught with peril,” said Springer.

Nixon said that one attorney has withdrawn as a GAL due to the reduced reimbursement and another has declined cases. Other counties have lost GALs and have to hire attorneys at the going market rate of $150 per hour.

In 2016, juvenile GAL fees totaled $47,000. For 2017, the commissioners appropriated $45,000. Through May, fees have already reached $35,000; at the current rate of cases, projections are that GAL fees will top $80,000 this year.

The state will reimburse 50 percent of its maximum fees of $50 and $60 for out-of-court and in-court services, respectively. “We've done all we can to get money out of the state public defender,” said Nixon.

The commissioners have not yet made a decision as to what the reimbursement rate will be.

In other business on Thursday, the commissioners opened bids for the resurfacing of Parrott Street. Kokosing Construction's bid of $491,583.52 was the only one received and is under the county engineer's estimate of $510,186.76.

Small's Sand and Gravel was the only bid received for county road resurfacing. Small's bid is $537,565.61; the engineer's estimate was $644,812.50.

Jeff Pickrell, water/wastewater superintendent, said the rehab of well NO. 3 is complete. The pump and screens were bad. The well previously generated 330 gallons per minute; it now generates 556 GPM.

Work is ongoing on well No. 1. All equipment has been pulled out; the pump is bad and major holes are in the screens. Pickrell will estimate what it will cost to rehab the well; the cost will determine whether the county will cap the well or rehab it.

Pickrell reported that residents will see the rate increase on their next bill. Twenty-two manholes, about half, have been rehabbed in the lines for Apple Valley; that should cut down on infiltration problems. The consumer confidence report required by the EPA will be posted on the county's website by July 1; hard copies will also be available. No reports will be mailed.


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