Money to fund in-school help

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 21, 2000

Lawrence County Department of Human Services secured $2 million to fund an in-school social worker and intervention programs for each county school district until June 2001, its director announced Thursday.

Friday, January 21, 2000

Lawrence County Department of Human Services secured $2 million to fund an in-school social worker and intervention programs for each county school district until June 2001, its director announced Thursday.

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"The idea is to deal with children in their environment," human services director Buddy Martin said at the weekly Lawrence County Commission meeting.

Intervention with students by an accredited social worker will give districts an added resource to improve education, Martin said.

State human services officials approved the funding, which is not a grant, he said.

"One of the things our teaching staff tells us on a continual basis is the need for such services in our school district," Ironton superintendent Steve Kingery said.

Students often face difficult social or home-life problems that need to be addressed by professionals, Kingery said.

"And the economic situation we find in our community now compounds that situation," he said. "It’s an excellent idea and we welcome the opportunity to cooperate with the department in this."

Martin is meeting with superintendents this morning to discuss specific funding plans.

Each school district, and the Lawrence County Probate Juvenile Court, will hire a social worker. The county DHS will only foot the bill, Martin said.

"We’ve left a lot of latitude for schools to meet the needs specific to each school environment," he said. "They know where the need is."

Improving student attitudes and helping them with social problems will improve their ability to learn and help prevent absenteeism, Martin added.

The money also will drive afterschool or weekend programs aimed at improving proficiency test scores.

"I’d focus on a couple of weeks in the summer and if it means taking kids to Kings Island afterward, so be it, you can do that with this money," Martin said. "It’s all about getting better."

The current funding ends June 30, 2001, but there is a good chance the money will continue, he added.

"But if it doesn’t stay, this will be a chance to evaluate, stay at it and figure out how to get the money for it."

In other business, the commission:

– Received an annexation petition from Marathon Ashland Petroleum to place property near the former South Point Ethanol plant inside village limits.

Commissioners referred the petition to the county auditor’s office, the county engineer and Perry Township trustees. An annexation hearing date will be set, commissioners said.

Earlier this month, village council members allowed Mayor Bill Gaskin to sign an agreement with Marathon Ashland Petroleum that gives the company a green light in placing a portion of a 120-mile petroleum products pipeline inside village limits.

The deal includes agreement to South Point officials’ chosen route, a new, large well, about $35,000 in matching funds for a grant for repairs and renovations to Village Park, as well as annexation of the remaining 400 acres of ethanol plant property.

Although currently vacated, the property lies within Perry Township limits. As part of the federally funded Empowerment Zone grant, the property is looked upon as the future home of an industrial park – a future potential tax base that Perry Township trustees say would be devastating to lose.

"We had talked earlier with Perry and South Point to urge a mutually agreed upon method to resolve this issue," commission president Bruce Trent said.

Trent suggested those talks should continue as the annexation process moves forward.

– Approved the Fraternal Order of Police contract with Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department employees. The contract, already ratified by union members, is similar to previous contracts and calls for a 5 percent salary increase this year, followed by a 4 percent increase in 2001 and a 4 percent increase in 2002, commissioners said.

– Froze fees for dog tags and kennel licenses at current amounts. Herrell said he had received several complaints that the fees, now on a three-year step increase, were becoming too high.

Commissioners also extended the purchase of dog tags until Feb. 29.

– Heard a report from Ralph Crawford of the Natural Resources Conservation Service about $260,000 in repairs needed at Pine Creek Dam in Elizabeth Township.

The 35-acre lake built in the 1970s to prevent farmland flooding doesn’t meet Ohio Department of Natural Resources standards, although it poses no threat to nearby development.

Suggestions include raising the dam, lowering water levels and improving the spillway, and officials are looking at grant money and other funding sources.

Trent said the county might ask the Wayne National Forest, which owns nearby land, to take over the lake. A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dam breach study might be needed as well, he said.