Medical marijuana topic brought back up at council meeting

| September 12, 2017

COSHOCTON – Coshocton City Council’s first meeting back from its summer break included presentations by several visitors.

Tina Dobson attended the Sept. 11 meeting to thank city council for listening to her requests about extending waterlines to her neighborhood just outside of the city limits.

“I’ve been here many times asking, begging for water for my house and I’m glad to hear that things are finally moving forward with this,” she said. “I don’t expect it to happen overnight, but I thank you for your efforts and the respect you’ve shown me when I’ve shown up here.”

The next person to step to the podium was Mike Jansen, another familiar face at city council meetings. He returned to once again ask the city to reconsider its decision to welcome medical marijuana manufacturing facilities to the community.

“In August I chatted with different groups of kids,” he said. “One I talked to was a 19-year-old at a barber shop. He couldn’t wait for medical marijuana to come here. He thought it would be awesome because right behind it would be the legalization of recreational marijuana. He said if I checked with his friends they would all be pretty excited.”

Jansen also talked with a group of young people from all three school districts who had gathered at Arby’s.

“They were an elite group of students who had gathered for a choir assembly,” he said. “I asked them on a scale of 1 to 10 how they would rate the marijuana problem at their schools and two simultaneously said seven and they were from two different schools. They felt a medical marijuana facility being here would send a message to their peers that marijuana was cool. They didn’t think it mattered that it was for medical usage. People would still think the message was that it’s ok. Is that the kind of message we want to send to our community?”

Three other individuals at the meeting agreed with Jansen and shared their thoughts.

“I’ve been the executive director at Coshocton Behavioral Health Choices for 17 years and every day we deal with addiction,” said Beth Cormack.

Many of their addiction problems started with marijuana.

“I know we need jobs here, but at what cost are we getting those,” Cormack said.

Next to speak was Dave Boots.

“I smoked marijuana for years into my early 20s, was basically a teenage alcoholic, popped pills and sold stuff,” he said. “I’m ashamed of that. This (medical marijuana manufacturing facilities) is that the way we want to bring money and jobs here? We need to think about the perception we are creating. Medical marijuana will not create a whole lot of good. Once you put your foot in the door you can’t always get it out.”

Another speaker who addressed the topic was Tyra Hixon, the clinical director at Coshocton Behavioral Health Choices.

“Medicine is often promoted as being safe, ok and helpful, but that is not always the case,” she said. “We are in an opioid epidemic and no state has been hit harder than Ohio. I know medical marijuana is legal, but I don’t want to send a message that marijuana is ok and I hope you don’t either.”

When the time for public comment closed, Mayor Steve Mercer informed council that it was time to consider creating a committee to discuss whether or not the city wanted to welcome medical marijuana dispensaries.

He also shared that the city was looking into ordering playground equipment for Bancroft Park. Mercer is hopeful that some organizations and groups in the community will step up to help with the installation of that equipment once it arrives. Assistance from the community would reduce the cost of the project from about $12,000 to $2,500.

Plans also are being made for Bancroft Park to receive a school bus shelter. City officials are hoping the shelter could be an example to follow for ones being built as part of the north end neighborhood revitalization program.

Coshocton was recently informed that its application for $500,000 in grant funds to assist Coshocton’s north end neighborhood with a neighborhood revitalization program was approved. The Ohio Development Services Agency received 21 applications for competitive funds. Coshocton County’s application was only one of 11 proposals funded by ODSA. Funds will be used to pave eight streets, replace broken sidewalks, demolish vacant dilapidated structures, install a shelter house and benches, and install two shelters for children waiting for the school bus.

“We are really grateful we were awarded this grant,” Mercer said. “We thought we had a strong application and apparently they thought so too.”

Service Director Max Crown said several streets in the city were recently paved and they are now just waiting for them to be stripped with lines.

“We are looking at our funding now to see if there are some more projects we can complete this year,” he said.

Crown also shared that the city was working with ODOT for Safe Routes to School funding and additional funding for its river walk.

Mercer said the Safe Routes to School funding with help repair sidewalks and put them where they might not already be to help students have a safe route to school.

When Sheriff Tim Rogers spoke at the meeting he informed council that he had finally arranged for them to meet the office’s new K-9. Deputy Steve Mox and his K-9 Chili stopped by the meeting along with Detective Dave Stone and his K-9 Henata.

“To me these dogs are invaluable,” Rogers said. “They save lives and get drugs off the streets. They are worth their weight in gold.”

An opening for another K-9 to join the office was created when Stone and Henata were moved to the detectives’ division.

Henata and Stone’s now retired former partner Dingo were purchased with assistance from the Bechtol family and this spring Rogers asked the community for assistance to help the office purchase a second dog.

“We were hoping to get a little bit of help, but we ended up with $20,000 in funding,” Rogers said. “People have been so generous to the K-9 program.”

Chili cost $8,500 and the sheriff’s office was able to get his training for free.

“He (Chili) is a pistol, but he’s very good at what he does,” Mox said. “I love him to death.”

Henata didn’t come with free training so her cost was $14,000. The K-9s however, quickly work off their cost.

“Henata’s first day on the job she helped us seize nearly $30,000 in cocaine,” Stone said.

Stone and Henata typically work days and Mox and Chili are on nights, but they will work together as a team and are happy to demonstrate how they work with their dogs to any group in the community.

City council has regularly scheduled meetings at 7 p.m. on the second and fourth Monday of the month in council chambers at city hall.

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    Category: Government

    Josie Sellers

    About the Author ()

    I started my journalism career in 2002 with a daily newspaper chain. After various stops with them, I am happy to be back home! I graduated from Coshocton High School in 1998 and received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication in 2002 from Walsh University. I also earned several awards while working for daily papers, including being honored by Coshocton County’s veterans for the stories I wrote about them. I am honored and ready to once again shine a positive light on Coshocton County. I also am the proud mother of a little girl named Sophia!