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Mount Vernon, Knox County, Ohio

MOUNT VERNON — The main topic of discussion at an hour-long city council-school board meeting on Monday involved traffic issues, current and future.

Mayor Richard Mavis told the school board members that the Mount Vernon Avenue bridge replacement project, slated for 2018, will have a major impact on traffic patterns around the high and middle schools as well as the career center. One lane will remain open during construction, as will Cougar Drive. The discussion yielded several suggestions for handling potential traffic jams:
•Instituting special no-turn directives between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
•Installing a temporary traffic light at the intersection of the career center entrance/exit and Ohio 586
•Encouraging parents to consider neighborhood car pools
•Encouraging middle school students to ride the bus during construction
•Reprogramming traffic signal timing during peak school hours
•Stationing a police or auxiliary officer at the career center entrance and Ohio 586
•Moving the school resource officer from Yellow Jacket Drive to Ohio 586/career center entrance
•Have career center students exit onto Ohio 586 via the Mount Vernon Nazarene University campus, pending MVNU approval

Some of these suggestions would also help existing traffic problems. Mavis recommended the Ohio Department of Transportation conduct a traffic study on Ohio 586. A more-permanent solution for the career center/586 area is to realign the career center driveway with Delano Street and install a signal. Career center trade students might be able to do some of the realignment work.

As in previous meetings, extending Yellow Jacket Drive was mentioned. Mavis said that although there is much support for the project, there is no money available. The $1 million project is now up to $2 million.

Superintendent Bill Seder updated council on the school resource officer, who he said is well liked by students and well received by parents. Although based in the high school, Seder said the SRO is a visible presence every day in the high school, middle school and career center. SRO duties include assisting with traffic during peak hours; investigating reports of assault, sexting and drug-related offenses; vehicle accidents; and discipline issues. “He’s connecting with students in a positive and proactive manner,” said Seder.

In addition to the above duties, Seder said the SRO is starting to move toward educational elements as well. Several teachers have invited the SRO into the classroom to talk about 9/11, drug awareness and constitutional issues.

Councilwoman Susan Kahrl said an increasing number of students are having their home life affected by the drug problem in the community. She encouraged school officials to carry on an active conversation with the police department to find a way to help children address these issues. Seder said the board hopes to hire two new social workers for the elementary schools who will help students with the psychological impact of parents using drugs. He also said school officials work with the Knox Substance Abuse Action Team as well as the Department of Job & Family Services.

Other topics mentioned included the bike path crosswalk on South Main Street and the soon-to-be-completed Kokosing Gap Trail connector bridge, which will provide a safer route for students than walking over the viaduct on South Main Street.

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