BATAVIA, Ohio – The Clermont County Opiate Task Force voted to oppose Issue 1, a proposed constitution amendment that would change drug sentencing laws, at its meeting on Oct. 11.
Although the Opiate Task Force supports sentencing reform, it believes that amending the constitution, instead of going through the Legislature, is the wrong way to do this.
The task force is comprised of stakeholders representing county government, agencies and the courts (Commissioners, Clermont County Public Health, Clermont County Mental Health & Recovery Board (MHRB), Municipal Court Probation, Common Pleas Court Probation, Public Defender, Children’s Protective Services, County Sheriff); Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services; Clermont Mercy Hospital; law enforcement and fire/EMS departments; faith-based organizations and private citizens.
At the meeting, a panel including Common Pleas Judge Jerry McBride, Assistant Prosecutor Darren Miller, Sheriff Steve Leahy, Commissioners Ed Humphrey and David Painter, and Karen Scherra, Executive Director of MHRB, spoke out against Issue 1 and detailed the impact it would have on the county courts, law enforcement and the County Jail, and taxpayers.
Issue 1 is a proposed constitutional amendment that would, among other things, reduce drug possession offenses from felonies to misdemeanors, prohibit jail time for any such offenses unless it is the third offense within 24 months, and reduce sentences of those in prison for any crimes other than murder, rape or child molestation by up to 25% if the individual is enrolled in programs in prison.
Among the drugs it would reduce penalties for is fentanyl, an extremely dangerous opioid that has been responsible for a number of deaths in Ohio. Under Issue 1, anyone caught with less than 20 grams of fentanyl would face a misdemeanor instead of prison time. A lethal dose of fentanyl can be as small as 2 milligrams; 20 grams could kill thousands of people.
The Clermont County Prosecutor’s Office and Municipal and Common Pleas Court judges are concerned that the broad language in Issue 1 would eliminate sentencing discretion for judges.
Common Pleas Judge Jerry McBride noted that both Municipal and Common Pleas Court judges work with lesser offenders to get them into treatment instead of jail or prison. “The reality is that less and less low-level offenders go to jail every day. For years, the emphasis has been on treatment,” he said.
“Long-term treatment is necessary for many drug users, and Issue 1 will make it more difficult for the criminal justice system to get drug users into long-term treatment. Issue 1 will eliminate the ability of courts to punish users of dangerous drugs who refuse to stay in treatment and who are a risk to the community,” Judge McBride elaborated.
In addition, Issue 1 would prohibit the courts from sentencing anyone on community control – popularly known as probation – to prison for probation violations, unless that person has committed another felony. “That effectively means that a person sentenced to community control for a felony can refuse to do anything, including participate in treatment, once placed on community control and the court has no real recourse,” Judge McBride said.
Proponents of Issue 1 say that the millions of dollars that will be saved by having fewer people in prison will be funneled into treatment at the local level. However, an analysis last week of Issue 1 by the Ohio Office of Management & Budget disputes that. The report says that the prisoner reduction will not be as large as predicted, and that county municipal courts and jails will end up shouldering many more costs. Fewer people in prison will mean more people in jail, said Sheriff Leahy, a cost that will be borne by county taxpayers.
Karen Scherra of the Mental Health & Recovery Board said that although her board is in favor of legislative reforms, it opposes Issue 1. “We do not see treatment increasing under Issue 1,” she said. “It’s often the stick of criminal justice that gets people into treatment.” She noted that her board has worked closely with county partners in criminal justice as well as the Commissioners to come up with initiatives in the battle against the opioid problems in the county. “If this passes we will watch a system that we worked really hard to build up collapse,” she said.
On Oct.3, the Clermont County Commissioners passed a resolution opposing Issue 1. Also opposing Issue 1 are the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association, the Ohio Bar Association, the County Commissioners Association of Ohio, Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, and the Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities.
BATAVIA, Ohio (Aug. 28, 2018) – On Thursday, Sept. 13, the Clermont County Suicide Prevention Coalition will host its 17th annual candlelight vigil to remember, honor, and cherish the lives of those individuals lost to suicide in Clermont County over the past year. More than five million living Americans have lost a close family member or friend to suicide. Anyone whose life has been touched by suicide is welcome to attend and pay tribute to their loved one. There will be a ceremonial lighting of candles, balloon release, and performance by West Clermont By-Request Choir. Refreshments will be provided following the vigil.
Date: Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018
Where: Union Township Veterans Memorial Park, Glen Este-Withamsville Road
Time: 6:30-8 p.m.
Contact: Lee Ann Watson, 513.732.5400
The event is sponsored by the Clermont County Mental Health & Recovery Board.
BATAVIA, Ohio (May 30, 2018)– Clermont County Commissioners today approved a one-year contract with Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services (GCB) to continue to manage operations at the county’s Community Alternative Sentencing Center (CASC). GCB will be paid $665,228. The contract goes from June 3, 2018, through June 2, 2019, with the option to renew for four one-year periods.
The CASC, which operates in a wing of the County Jail, is an alternative to jail for misdemeanants who are convicted of drug- or alcohol-related crimes. It includes substance abuse and mental health treatment, medication-assisted treatment, and educational and vocational services.
GCB has managed the CASC since June 2015, and began admitting male clients in September 2015. The CASC admitted its first female clients in September 2017, funded through the federal 21st Century CURES Act.
In a report to Commissioners in April, Steve Goldsberry, Vice President of Addiction Services at Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health, noted that since September 2015, the CASC has had more than 500 admissions, with an 84% completion rate. Those who complete CASC treatment are less likely to be rearrested, a GCB study shows. Clients are connected to outpatient treatment at Clermont Recovery Center after their release from CASC.
The three-year average cost per day of a client in CASC is $61 – compared to the 2017 cost of $72 per day per inmate in the County Jail.
During the April presentation, Chief Probation Officer Joe Ellison, Clermont County Municipal Court, said, “We certainly see that people released from CASC do better. They show up for probation and treatment.”
Of the $665,228 one-year contract, County Administrator Tom Eigel noted that $188,000 for the women’s wing and $86,000 for medication-assisted treatment would be covered by the 21st Century CURES Act. The county would fund the remaining $391,000, which is less that what it allocated for the 2017-18 budget — $410,000.
Goldsberry, who also spoke at today’s Session, thanked the county for its support of the CASC.
BATAVIA, Ohio (May 11, 2018) – Deaths due to drug overdoses declined for the second straight year in Clermont County, according to the Clermont County Coroner’s Office.
In 2017, the Coroner’s Office, under the direction of Dr. Brian Treon, ruled that 76 deaths were caused by accidental drug overdoses. This compared to 83 in 2016, and 94 in 2015 – the highest number since Clermont County began to see the effects of increased opioid use in the late 2000s.
“We are encouraged by these numbers,” said Karen Scherra, the director of the Clermont County Mental Health & Recovery Board (MHRB). “These numbers indicate that the comprehensive measures we as a county have taken to address this issue are working.” The MHRB, the county hub in the fight against opioid addiction, is the lead organization in Clermont County’s Opiate Task Force, a collaborative that began in 2013 to address the opioid crisis in the county.
In 2017, more medication-assisted treatment and other kinds of treatment became available to more people suffering from substance abuse disorder, Scherra said. In 2017, MHRB spent over $1.9 million on addiction treatment services.
Other advances in 2017 included more Quick Response Teams, which go to the homes of those who have survived overdoses to connect them to recovery resources; and more police/fire/EMS departments carrying Narcan, which can reverse overdoses.
In addition, a long-term recovery home for men was opened in 2017 in Clermont County. MHRB is now working on funding to open a similar home for women. Clermont County also opened a women’s wing in the Community Alternative Sentencing Center. This jail alternative connects clients with multiple treatment options.
Funding for these initiatives are provided through a combination of MHRB levy funds, federal and state grants.
Clermont County Public Health, a member of the Opiate Task Force, is also on the forefront of the opioid battle. “In response to the rise in drug overdose deaths, we created an Overdose Death Review Committee in 2014,” said Public Health Commissioner Julianne Nesbit. “We look at aggregate level data to see if there are any trends that we can address to help reduce future deaths in the community.
“Since we first saw the increase in drug overdose deaths, we have had a full-time Injury Prevention Coordinator who works to educate the community and work with our partners on the drug epidemic.”
In March, Hamilton County reported that overdose deaths for 2017 had increased 31 percent over the previous year to 529. Butler County reported a 20% increase to 232.
More information on Clermont County’s Opiate Task Force can be found on its website, www.getcleannowClermont.org.
For more information, contact MHRB Executive Director Karen Scherra, email@example.com, 513.732.5407.
BATAVIA, Ohio (March 30, 2018) – With a message of Bringing Help. Bringing Hope. Thank you., the Clermont County Opiate Task Force is joining in the State of Ohio’s Week of Appreciation from April 9-13 with outreach to organizations and individuals that have been on the front lines of the opiate epidemic battle in Clermont County.
Beginning with a proclamation from the Clermont County Commissioners on April 9, members of the task force will fan out during the week with certificates, cookies and personal thank you notes to police departments, fire/EMS departments, Mercy Health Clermont, boards, agencies, government offices, recovery support groups and others that have joined forces for years to stem the opioid tide.
“This is a week of thanks and a week of celebration,” said Karen Scherra, Executive Director of the Clermont County Mental Health & Recovery Board (MHRB). The board, which has co-chaired the Opiate Task Force since its inception in 2013, has been the lead partner in the collaborative effort to slow down and ultimately reverse the epidemic. Through its taxpayer-supported levy, the MHRB has directed funds to various initiatives to help those impacted by addiction.
Many more treatment options and services are available in Clermont County now compared to 2013, Scherra noted. “We are proud of the fact that the Opiate Task Force came together early on when we recognized what was happening, and began a collaborative process that continues to pay off.”
But this week, she noted, is really about those who aren’t always thanked as they make a difference in the lives of those who have substance use disorders.
“We see every day the difficulty and pain so many of our front-line fighters face as they work to help individuals in need. The positive impact that recovery from addiction can have on individuals, families, job growth, community safety, and overall economic development cannot be overstated,” Scherra said.
“Treatment works and people recover,” she stressed.
“Saving individuals and helping to open the door to recovery for those living in Clermont County who need treatment services and supports is not only the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do. Our community will be stronger for it.”
As part of the Week of Appreciation, the Opiate Task Force is inviting the public to attend its monthly meeting from 2-3:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 12. It will be held at the Batavia Township Community Center, 1535 Clough Pike.
“We’re holding our meeting this month at a larger location. We invite the public to celebrate this week with us, by stopping by to learn more about our initiatives and successes,” Scherra said.
Some of the 2017 accomplishments include:
To learn more about the Clermont County Opiate Task Force, go to www.getcleannowclermont.org and follow Opiate Task Force’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/getcleannowCC.
BATAVIA, Ohio — In a continuing effort to foster activities that promote positive mental health and prevent substance abuse, the Clermont County Mental Health & Recovery Board is pleased to announce that the opportunity to apply for mini-grants will again be available for 2018-19.
The board is looking for innovative projects that will positively affect mental health and/or prevent substance abuse for any age group.
A total up to $40,000, from the board’s levy funds, is available for programs serving Clermont County residents. The maximum funding per project is $4,000. The grant period is July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019. Any organized group in Clermont County – with the exception of the contract agencies of the Mental Health & Recovery Board – can apply for funding.
Previously funded applicants are eligible to reapply. Applicants must have a financial structure in place to account for the awarded funds. Funds may not be used to cover ongoing operating expenses.
To apply for a mini-grant, please submit a brief proposal that includes the name, address, email address and phone number of the contact person, a description of the activity/purpose for which the grant will be used, an explanation of how the activity will promote positive mental health and/or prevent substance abuse, a description of what part of the activity the mini-grant will fund if used with other monies, the date(s) of activity, and the amount of the funding request.
Mini-grant funds cannot be used to purchase equipment such as iPads, iPods, tablets or other electronic items. The funds can be used for materials, supplies, and/or food for activities planned.
Proposals must be submitted no later than Friday, May 1, 2018, to: Mini-Grant Project, c/o Cindy Knoblauch, Clermont County Mental Health & Recovery Board, 2337 Clermont Center Drive, Batavia, OH 45103.
Last year, the Clermont County Mental Health and Recovery Board funded a total of 15 mini-grants to 12 separate organizations. Eight schools in Clermont County received grants that assisted in initiating activities that helped children stay drug-free and established mentoring programs.
In addition, grants were awarded to other agencies providing services directed to community members, such as the Goshen War on Heroin and SOLACE.
Any group receiving funding is required to submit a report to the board on its efforts and resulting outcomes following completion of the activity. A final accounting of funds must be submitted within 60 days of the end of the activity. All unused funds must be returned to the Mental Health & Recovery Board.
It is possible that mini-grants may not be available in the future or that a project funded once may not receive funds a second time, so mini-grants should be viewed as one-time only funds.
If you have any questions about applying for these grants, call the Clermont County Mental Health & Recovery Board at 513.732.5400.
BATAVIA, Ohio – Interested in learning more about county government? Have you ever seen a K-9 team in action? Do you want to find out more about the county’s Opiate Task Force? If so, please join us in April during National County Government Month.
Clermont County will hold several open houses and activities during the month.
The public is invited and is asked to register at https://clermontcountyohio.gov//national-county-government-month or call Kathleen Williams at 513.732.7597, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday, April 7
Celebrate the outdoors at Sycamore Park
10 a.m.-noon: Nest Fest at Sycamore Park. Learn how to identify bird eggs and nests, use your “owl eyes” for our egg hunt and meet birds of prey up close thanks to our friends at RAPTOR Inc.
Address: 4082 SR 132, Batavia
Meet your new pet
1-2 p.m.: Meet the folks at the Clermont Animal CARE Humane Society animal shelter, 4025 Filager Road, Batavia. The new managers of the animal shelter will talk about their philosophy and initiatives. You can also meet the dogs and cats available for adoption.
Address: 4025 Filager Road, Batavia
Thursday, April 12
Celebrating successes in the opiate epidemic fight
2-3:30 p.m.: Join Clermont County’s Opiate Task Force as it celebrates Ohio’s ‘A Week of Appreciation,’ Batavia Township Community Center. Learn more about the task force’s accomplishments, initiatives and resources as it thanks those who have been on the front lines of fighting this epidemic. Light refreshments.
Address: Batavia Township Community Center, 1535 Clough Pike, Batavia
Saturday, April 14
Rendezvous on the River
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.: Help the Clermont County Park District celebrate spring and National County Government Month with the season-opening event at Chilo Lock 34 Park. We’ll have food, fun and special guests on every floor of the Visitors Center from noon to 3 p.m. Enjoy the playground, hike the trails and watch the mighty Ohio River from the boat ramp or the observation deck all day long.
Address: 521 County Park Road, Chilo (off U.S. 52)
Thursday, April 19
Ensuring public health
2-3 p.m.: Public Health is more than just flu shots. Visit your Public Health officials at the Clermont County Public Health Nursing Division to see what it takes to protect the health of Clermont County and its residents.
Birth certificates, flu shots, septic system inspections, plumbing permits, restaurant inspections, WIC, free car seats for needy families, and reducing drug overdoses in the community are just a few of the things that Public Health does. Stop by for an open house and talk to your public health department.
Address: 2400 Clermont Center Drive, Suite 200, Batavia
Enforcing laws & protecting citizens
6 p.m.-7:30 p.m.: Tour the Sheriff’s Office. See the Crime Lab. In the parking lot, see a demonstration by the K-9 unit, and the Special Response Team – including a robot used in dangerous situations.
Address: 4470 SR 222, Batavia – please park in adjacent Municipal Court parking lot
Saturday, April 21
Spring Litter Clean-Up
This annual volunteer event is held in communities throughout Clermont County. Appreciate our county’s beauty? Volunteer to be part of this countywide event – whether in cities, townships and villages, along the Little Miami and East Fork, or at East Fork State Park. Find out more information here: https://www.springlittercleanup.com/. #GreenClermont
Tuesday, April 24
Protecting our water & environment
10-11:30 a.m.: Tour the Bob McEwen Water Treatment Plant and learn how water from Harsha Lake becomes drinking water. And learn more about how we are protecting our watershed from the Office of Environmental Quality and Soil & Water Conservation District. #GreenClermont
Address: 3960 Greenbriar Road, Batavia
4-6 p.m.: Learn about services offered by the Clermont County Board of Developmental Disabilities, as well as other agencies in the Tri-State area that serve children and adults with disabilities. Members of the Clermont County Voices self-advocacy group will be available to give facility tours and answer questions about the challenges they have faced in their everyday lives.
Address: 2040 US Highway 50, Batavia
CINCINNATI, Ohio (Dec. 1, 2017) — The National Alliance on Mental Illness, better known as NAMI of Southwest Ohio, held its 8th Annual Evening of Hope on Nov. 1 at the Cintas Center where it announced its Excellence in Mental Health Care awards. This year, Karen Scherra, Executive Director of the Clermont County Mental Health & Recovery Board, was named one of NAMI of Southwest Ohio’s top honorees, winning Outstanding Leadership in a Community Setting.
Each year, NAMI of Southwest Ohio recognizes those in Hamilton, Warren and Clermont counties who have demonstrated extraordinary work and advocacy on behalf of people with mental illness and their families. The award categories include Exemplary Psychiatrist, Exemplary Therapist, Exemplary Psychiatric Nurse, Outstanding Leadership in a Community Setting, Criminal Justice/Mental Health, Crisis intervention Team Excellence, and Outstanding NAMI Volunteer.
Dr. Katherine (Katie) Schmidt, also from Clermont County who works for Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health, received the psychiatrist award.
Ms. Scherra has worked at the Board for over 25 years, and has been executive director since July 1997. She was recognized for her commitment to the needs of those with a mental illness and her ongoing advocacy in order to obtain funding to meet those needs. Dr. Schmidt was recognized for the skill, compassion and care with which she treats her clients. In Clermont County, Dr. Schmidt oversees the Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) program at the Clermont Recovery Center, and under her leadership, the MAT program now serves almost 500 individuals with an opioid addiction.
BATAVIA, Ohio (Sept. 29, 2017) – National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is Saturday, Oct. 28. There are multiple places in Clermont County to turn in old, expired, or unused prescription drugs.
Permanent drug drop-off boxes can be found here:
Amelia Police Department, 44 W. Main St.; Bethel Police Department, 120 N. Main St., Suite 2; Clermont County Sheriff’s Office, 4470 SR 222, Batavia; Goshen Police Department, 6757 Goshen Road; Loveland Police Department, 126 S. Lebanon Road; Miami Township Police Department, 5900 McPicken Drive, and Milford Police Department, 745 Center St., Suite 302.
Felicity Police Department, 415 W. Walnut St., and Pierce Township Police Department, 950 Locust Corner Road, will staff collection sites on Oct. 28 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The Food and Drug Administration offers these guidelines on how to best dispose of unused prescription drugs: https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm101653.htm.
For more information on National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, visit https://goo.gl/GXZgEf.
BATAVIA, Ohio (Sept. 1, 2017) – The Ohio Department of Health has released its report on 2016 drug overdose deaths. Although the number of overdose deaths across the state increased for the seventh straight year, Clermont County’s overdose death totals dropped for the first time since 2009.
In 2016, there were 96 deaths related to drug overdoses in the county, compared to a record high of 105 in 2015. The finding was just one of several released by the Ohio Department of Health in its 2
016 Ohio Drug Overdose Data: General Findings.
While Clermont County did see a decrease in overdose deaths from 2015 to 2016, its death rate (based on a six-year average from 2011-2016) remains near the highest in Ohio. Only Montgomery, Butler, and Brown counties have a higher rate.
Statewide, the number of drug overdose deaths increased by 32 percent, going from 3,050 in 2015 to 4,050 in 2016.
While the number of heroin-related overdose deaths in Ohio remained somewhat steady, the number of fentanyl-related overdose deaths more than doubled from 2015 to 2016. There were 1,155 overdose deaths in Ohio from fentanyl and related drugs in 2015, and that number increased to 2,357 deaths in 2016.
“We have a long way to go and would like to see these numbers continue to decline, but this is an encouraging start,” said Health Commissioner Julianne Nesbit. “The Opiate Task Force has been hard at work addressing the drug epidemic, and this is a small accomplishment for all of the work the members have done.”
“It is a sad reality, but without the use of naloxone, these numbers could be much higher,” said Nesbit. Clermont County Public Health, along with the Clermont County Mental Health and Recovery Board, have been instrumental in making naloxone (better known by its brand name Narcan) more available to citizens in the county as well as local law enforcement and EMS agencies.
For more information on the Clermont County Opiate Task Force, visit its website at https://www.getcleannowclermont.org.
For the full report from the Ohio Department of Health, click here.
Clermont County Public Health (CCPH) is dedicated to the mission of striving to improve Clermont County by preventing disease, promoting health, and protecting the environment. For more information, visit http://www.ccphohio.org or call 513-732-7499.