March 30, 2018

A Week of Appreciation for those on the front lines of the opiate epidemic

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:

  • A sober recovery home for men in Clermont County
  • A new women’s wing at the Community Alternative Sentencing Center
  • New Quick Response Teams that provide outreach to those who have overdosed
  • Additional peer recovery coaches
  • Greater access to medication-assisted treatment
  • More police/fire/EMS departments carrying Narcan

To learn more about the Clermont County Opiate Task Force, go to  and follow Opiate Task Force’s Facebook page


March 29, 2018

Mental Health & Recovery Board again offers mini-grants

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.



March 16, 2018

Clermont County holding open houses in April – public is invited

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 or call Kathleen Williams at 513.732.7597, or email her at

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: #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

Disability awareness

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



December 1, 2017

Karen Scherra recognized by NAMI for outstanding leadership

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.


September 29, 2017

Prescription Drug Take Back Day is Oct. 28

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:

For more information on National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, visit


September 1, 2017

Drug overdose deaths decline in Clermont County

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

Public Health Commissioner Julianne Nesbit.

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

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 or call 513-732-7499.

August 24, 2017

Partnerships are key between jail and mental health community

Renae Butcher and Denny Moell, of Child Focus’s Mobile Crisis Team. Their work is funded by MHRB.

BATAVIA, Ohio (Aug. 24, 2017) — Partnerships are crucial when it comes to dealing with mental health issues among inmates at the County Jail, said Administrator Joe Palmer.

“I don’t know how we could operate now without our wonderful partners,” he said.

Those partners include the Clermont County Mental Health & Recovery Board, whose levy funds the Mobile Crisis Team. (Mobile Crisis is operated by Child Focus Inc.) Renae Butcher, a social worker from Mobile Crisis, is now working full time at the jail, helping to assess inmates who appear to be dealing with a mental illness.

The Mobile Crisis Team also assists the Mental Health and Recovery Board in providing Crisis Intervention Training to law enforcement and corrections officers in Clermont County, teaching them through role-playing and other exercises how to react to and work with those who show signs of mental illness when they are responding to a call, or encounter them in jail. At least 60% of corrections officers have completed the training.

Another partner is Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services (GCB), which has two locations in Clermont County, one for mental health services in Amelia and the Clermont Recovery Center for addiction services in Batavia.

Recently, a memorandum of understanding between the County Jail and GCB allows the sharing of a database between the two. This allows corrections officers to determine whether a new inmate is a GCB client. “Joe Smith comes in, we put him in our system and cross-check with GCB,” Palmer says, giving an example. “We notify GCB – Joe Smith is here, you can come see him. Now we know what medications he needs, we know what his particular mental health issue is. It’s a win-win for everybody.” (A legal opinion from the Hamilton County Prosecutor said this did not violate doctor-patient privilege.)

“If you have mental health issues, you do not leave here without a referral to Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services,” Palmer added. “A case worker will come here to see you before your discharge. We’re doing our very best to make sure that your mental health needs are provided for.”

A grant just awarded to MHRB from the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services has allowed for Butcher’s position to move from part-time to full-time at the jail, and will allow GCB to hire a full-time case manager to work with inmates upon their release from jail, connecting them to treatment options.


August 24, 2017

At County Jail, inmates suffering from mental illness are treated with care

Jail Administrator Joe Palmer

BATAVIA, Ohio (Aug. 24, 2017) – It’s no secret that jails in the United States have become homes, and sometimes havens, to those with mental illness. National studies have shown that nearly 15% of men and 30% of women booked into jails have a serious mental health condition, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Clermont County has long recognized that and was one of the first counties in the nation to join the “Stepping Up” Initiative developed by the National Association of Counties (NACo) to reduce the number of people with mental illness in jail. According to Karen Scherra, Executive Director of the Mental Health and Recovery Board (MHRB), “Clermont County’s collaborative efforts to address this issue have been recognized at the state and federal level and have assisted many individuals with getting needed treatment services.”

Now, a grant for $83,333 that MHRB was awarded from the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services will put more resources toward screening and possible diversion of those with mental illness into treatment programs.

Every day, corrections officers at the Clermont County Jail encounter inmates who have a mental illness. In 2016, an average of 22 people were put on suicide watch every month at the County Jail. The jail has strict protocols it follows to make sure that inmates who have mental health issues are treated appropriately. But first and foremost, is the philosophy behind it, said jail Administrator Joseph Palmer: “You are not here to die,” he said. “We will do everything possible to preserve your humanity.”

Screening for mental illness

All corrections officers are instructed in how to screen inmates for mental illness, and are trained on how to work with people in crisis. They also depend on the expertise of social worker Renae Butcher, a member of the Clermont County Mobile Crisis Team. The grant has allowed her to move from part time to full time at the jail, where she screens inmates for possible mental illness and works with them during crises. The grant will also allow a full-time case manager to be hired who will connect inmates with resources as they are released.

Additionally, medical staff at the jail includes a nurse who specializes in mental health, and a psychiatrist who visits the jail twice a month, and is available to take nurses’ calls at any time.

It all begins, says Palmer, with a screening form at inmate intake. “If someone is suffering from psychosis or DTs (delirium tremens), we will know that and they will be refused admittance,” he said. “We don’t have to accept you,” he said. “We must be able to accept you safely and securely.”

“One of the basic things we do is ask, does this person need to be in a hospital instead of a jail?” said Denny Moell, who heads the Mobile Crisis Team, which is managed by Child Focus Inc. and funded by MHRB. “We evaluate and assess them. Most of the time, they can stay in jail. Sometimes we refer them for further evaluation at Summit Behavioral Health in Hamilton County. Summit can do a longer-term admission. They have a forensic unit – so they can handle those who are coming from jail.”

Added Butcher: “If the inmate seems suicidal, we see if we can get them calmed down. Can we keep them in jail safely, or do we need to move them to Mercy Clermont or Summit?”  So far in 2017, nine inmates have been referred to Summit.

Suicide watch precautions

There are two levels of suicide watch at the jail. “If we even SUSPECT you’re suicidal, you’re put on Level 1 or Level 2 watch immediately,” Palmer said.

The Sheriff’s Office has a set of policies that outline procedures to take whenever an inmate is placed on Level 1 or Level 2 watch. These include securing the inmate, administering first aid and summoning medical assistance, completing a questionnaire with the inmate, and removing any clothing items that might assist in suicide. Inmates are issued safe gowns and blankets and are placed in holding cells.

For a Level 1 watch, inmates are checked at least every 10 minutes. For a Level 2 watch, they are put in a cell in front of the booking area and continuously monitored.

Palmer says the sheriff’s protocols err on the side of protecting life. “We put more people on a Level 1 or Level 2 watch than any other medium-level jail in Ohio,” he said. “The Chief of Operations for the Department of Corrections told us that. ‘The inspector says, you don’t take any chances, do you?’ And I said, ‘No, no chances with a human life.’”

The Sheriff’s Office contracts with Southern Health Partners for all medical, dental and mental health services at the jail. The current two-year contract for 2017-2019 is $1.65 million. This includes nursing staff – at least one nurse at all times, and sometimes as many as three; a mental health nurse twice a week, and a psychiatrist twice a month. The psychiatrist can prescribe psychotropic drugs over the phone should an inmate need them, Palmer said.

“While you are here, we are going to do our very best to make sure that your mental health needs are provided for,” Palmer said. “Because we’re dealing with a person’s life.”


August 22, 2017

Candlelight vigil to remember those lost to suicide to be held Sept. 13

BATAVIA, Ohio (Aug. 22, 2017)  — The Clermont County Suicide Prevention Coalition will host its 16th annual candlelight vigil to remember, honor, and cherish the lives of those individuals lost to suicide in Clermont County over the past year on Wednesday, Sept. 13. More than 5 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:         Wednesday, Sept. 13

Where:     Union Township Veterans Memorial Park

Glen Este-Withamsville Rd.

Cincinnati, Ohio

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.


July 14, 2017

Community Alternative Sentencing Center will soon admit women

BATAVIA, Ohio (July 14, 2017) – Clermont County Commissioners approved on July 12 the expansion of the Community Alternative Sentencing Center (CASC) to serve women. The CASC, which has been open since September 2015 under the management of Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Systems, provides an alternative to jail for misdemeanants who are convicted of drug- or alcohol-related crimes.

Since 2015, the CASC has served men. It provides various kinds of treatment and therapy, including medication-assisted treatment (MAT), cognitive behavioral therapy, sober recovery meetings, and work readiness classes. It is funded by Clermont County, and its current budget is $440,800.

Now, thanks to a grant from the federal 21st Century Cures Act, Clermont County will start admitting women to the CASC as of Sept. 1, said BCC President David Uible. “This will allow us to address a gap in our attempts to address this crisis. We have wanted to offer this treatment alternative to women, and the grant will allow us to do so.”

Under the Cures Act, $26 million was allocated to the State of Ohio to fight the opioid epidemic. Clermont County, as one of the top 15 counties in the state most affected by the crisis, was given priority in the grant process, according to Karen Scherra, Executive Director of the Clermont County Mental Health & Recovery Board (CCMHRB), who led the application for the grant.

CCMHRB is receiving approximately $418,000 in the first year of the grant and up to $700,000 in the second year, which is being provided to the County to fund the CASC program. By the second year, the county hopes to serve up to 25 women in the pod. Medication-assisted treatment will be emphasized, Scherra said.

“We were very pleased to be awarded funding to expand CASC to women, which will allow a greater access to needed services and a better chance for recovery,” Scherra said.

The CASC, which operates in a wing of the County Jail, will operate its women’s pod completely separated from the men’s. The new staff will include an admissions coordinator, three counselors, three aides, a part-time employment specialist, and a recovery coach. It will also include dedicated hours from a physician and nurse.

The Community Alternative Sentencing Center – the only one in the State of Ohio – is a voluntary program. Municipal Court judges refer misdemeanants to the CASC if they think they will be good candidates for treatment as opposed to incarceration. Since it began operating under the management of Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health, the CASC has admitted 378 men. Of those 307 have successfully completed the program, with many transitioning into continued services and supports in the community.