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The Middletown community talked honestly last night about the human costs of the opioid epidemic

Published: Tuesday, February 13, 2018 @ 8:36 AM

Lindsey Ervin works with the Heroin Hope Line and One City two entities helping combat the drug abuse epidemic. She says last night’s Opioid forum in Middletown was effective in discussing the issue.

About 50 people from the Middletown area and regional journalists spent two hours at the MidPointe Public Library on Monday evening talking about and listening to the impact the opioid epidemic has had on the community in terms of human life and damage to families.

The participants came from a variety of backgrounds, ranging from addicts and parents of addicts to social workers and emergency room nurses.

Monday was the second of a series of Your Voice Ohio forums in southwest Ohio intended to bring residents together to find ways to respond to the opioid crisis, which contributed to a total of 77 overdose deaths in Middletown alone last year. Middletown recorded 966 opioid-related overdoses in 2017, and of those, 798 people received Narcan from city EMS medics.

MORE: The overdose epidemic comes at a massive cost. In Middletown, it’s millions.

Your Voice Ohio is a collaboration of about 30 news media organizations across the state, including the Journal-News, Dayton Daily News and the Springfield News-Sun.

“The goal today was to try to help journalists, actually, come into closer contact with the people in the community, have an opportunity to sit with a diverse group and and think about what are the competing concerns with the opioid crisis and how do we as journalists best provide people in our community with the information they need at any given moment to try to deal with say family issues or think about public policy issues,’” said Doug Oplinger, project manager with Your Voice Ohio.

Participants were asked what the opioid epidemic looked like in their community; what they saw were the causes of the epidemic; and possible steps to combat the opioid epidemic.

MORE: Is the overdose epidemic on the cusp of improving? Middletown is seeing positive signs

Participants listen to various ideas and comments on how the opioid epidemic has affected the region. About 50 people attended a Your Voice Ohio forum Monday at the MidPointe Public Library in Middletown. Your Voice Ohio is a collaborative of 30 media organizations across the state including the Journal-News. ED RICHTER/STAFF(Staff Writer)

Concerns raised in these small-group discussions included:

• The need for more detoxification and treatment centers in Middletown

• The ripple effect of issues created when young children see their parents or other loved ones overdose on drugs,

• Overcoming the stigma that recovering addicts experience

• The ease of obtaining opioids for pain management

• Increasing public funding for treatment centers and more response teams

• The need to develop more strategies increasing classroom education at all younger grades

• More faith-based involvement

• More media stories of addicts successfully completing their treatment programs

“We don’t have enough detox and treatment centers,” said Kim Carroll of Middletown. “It shouldn’t matter who has titles if this is about helping people. They need to get out into the streets (to reach out to addicts).”

Carroll thought the session “was very educational.”

“Education is the key,” she said. “I’ve learned in life that you’re going to be a talker or a walker. We need to put these words into action.”

Jewell DeFrates and Kim Carroll say the Opioid forum held in Middletown Monday night was effective and they’d like to see more held.

MORE: Middletown council member: Can we stop responding to overdoses?

After Monday’s session, participants felt the session was worthwhile and were willing to attend another session in the future.

“I’m so excited this was available,” said Danette Moore of Middletown, who has two sons who are addicts. “I heard a lot of good ideas to start a platform of coordinated care services for all addicts and families. It also increased community awareness.”

When asked what advice she would give a parent whose child has become addicted, Moore said they need to find out what resources are available.

“You need to understand that you’ll walk a fine line of being an enabler and tough love,” she said. “You’ll also learn that you don’t have control over the situation, even if you wanted to.”

Forums on opioids

Aditional Your Voice Ohio forums are scheduled in other locations in southwest Ohio. The sessions are free to attend, but because of limited seating, people are asked to RSVP online on and search for Your Voice Ohio.

East Cincinnati — 6:30 p.m., today, Feb. 13, Madisonville Recreation Center, 5320 Stewart Ave., Cincinnati.

Wilmington — 1 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 18, Wilmington Municipal Building, 69 N. South St.

By the Numbers

Costs of heroin epidemic for Middletown taxpayers in 2017

  • $2.3 million: The overall cost to Middletown taxpayers in 2017. It is the approximate amount Middletown plans for paving in 2018.
  • $1.92 million: The overall cost for police services that were opioid-related.
  • $1.5 million: The overall cost to Middletown taxpayers in 2015. No calculation was made in 2016.
  • $199,300: The overall cost to taxpayers for Middletown EMS responses, Heroin Response Team, Narcan and other drugs and medical supplies.
  • $110,000: Approximate costs for Middletown Municipal Court services in opioid-related cases.
  • $62,000: For police overtime costs for patrol officers, narcotics officers, detectives and canines.
  • $57,000: Costs for syringe exchanges and Narcan syringes used in 2017.
  • $45,000: For court time paid to police officers in drug cases.
  • $14,725: Costs to the city for indigent burials.
  • 2,970.5: Number of milligrams of Narcan administered by Middletown EMS in 2017.
  • 1,501: Number of syringes used by Middletown EMS in 2017.
  • 966: Number of opioid-related overdoses in Middletown in 2017, up from 532 in 2016.
  • 798: Number of individuals who received Narcan from Middletown EMS medics.
  • 430: Number of hours used by fire and police personnel on the Heroin Response Team preparing for and working in the field.
  • 250: Number of people referred into opioid treatment by the HRT.
  • 77: Number of opioid-related fatal overdoses in 2017, up from 74 in 2016.
  • $23: The discounted cost for one dose of Narcan.
  • $6: The cost of medical care and supplies to administer Narcan.
  • 2: The number of milligrams in one dose of Narcan.

Source: The city of Middletown

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Where has the Middie Magic gone? Why Middletown High School’s marquee sports are struggling

Published: Saturday, February 24, 2018 @ 9:00 AM

Talks about importance of youth programs

To be successful in high school sports, four criteria must be in place: Quality facilities, coaching consistency, talented athletes and a youth program.

In Middletown, where the district renovated Barnitz Stadium and built a state-of-art Wade E. Miller Arena on the high school campus, facilities can’t be blamed for the two worst football and boys basketball seasons in the school’s once-proud athletic history.

The football team, under Lance Engleka, who resigned after two seasons citing death threats he received on social media, finished 0-10 in 2016 and 1-9 in 2017.

READ MORE: Who’s the greatest Middie athlete of all-time?

The boys basketball team — for a school that has won seven state titles, but none since 1957 — was 8-16 last season and 6-16 this season heading into the Division I tournament.

Add up those two-year records of the football and boys basketball teams — the district’s marque teams — and you get 15 wins, 51 losses, a .227 winning percentage. After reviewing records for the last century, that appears to be the worst two-year, win-loss mark in Middletown High School history.

The Middie Magic, it seems, has vanished. And there’s plenty of blame to go around.

Let’s start with the coaching staffs. Middletown used to be known for its long-tenured coaches, but of late, it’s been more like a coaching carousel. There have been three football and three basketball coaches in the last five seasons.

READ MORE: 7 things to know about the city’s history for its 185th birthday

Supporters of the program and MHS athletic director Aaron Zupka believe Darnell Hoskins, who’s completing his second season, and first-year football coach Don Simpson were the proper hires.

Lynn Darbyshire, a member of the selection committee, has been impressed by Hoskins, Hoskins’ assistant and former Dayton Dunbar coach Pete Pullen and former Miami University Middletown coach Jim Sliger, who is the freshmen coach.

“We got it right,” Darbyshire said. “Things are in place.”

But to be truly successful, these coaches — all coaches — need talented players, especially to compete in the powerful Greater Miami Conference with the likes of Colerain, Princeton, Lakota East, Lakota West and Mason.

READ MORE: Middletown High School’s greatest basketball players

Middletown used to churn out Division I players every year. At one time, five former Middies started on the Ohio State University football team and rosters of Division I college basketball teams were littered with Middies.

But the Middies haven’t produced a Division I basketball player since Vince Edwards signed with Purdue four years ago. Jalin Marshall, a wide receiver for the New York Jets, was the last Middie to earn a scholarship at OSU in 2014.

So where did all the players go? Middletown, once the largest school in the GMC, now has an enrollment of about 1,500, the lowest of the 10 schools in the league. The largest school, Mason, has about 3,500 students.

The biggest reason for the Middies’ athletic struggles appears to be its lack of a youth program.At one time, Middletown offered youth baseball and football leagues, but over the years, as interest waned, those leagues folded and the fields were converted for soccer. There are no baseball diamonds at Smith Park, the city’s largest park, and the youth football games have been moved to Douglass Park.

When was the last time you saw a pick-up basketball game at Douglass Park or Sunset Park?

“It’s painful at times,” said Lynn Darbyshire, a member of the selection committee for Middletown coaches who has attended most of the boys basketball games. “We are not prepared at this level to be competitive.”

For that to change, the district must retain students and attract families, Zupka said. Middletown certainly benefited when the Carter family (Butch, Cris, John, George) and Edwards family (Bill Jr. and Vince) moved to the Middletown area. More athletes are leaving Middletown than enrolling.

Zupka also wants the varsity coaches to get more involved at the lower levels.

“We have to offer more support to organizations and kids,” said Zupka, who has instructed his coaches to provide youth camps and skill development opportunities. “We got the facilities and we need to use our facilities to get kids to our doors, to engage kids at a younger level. We got to get the kids earlier. That’s our biggest challenge. Building that consistency from the bottom up. Shame on us. We got to do a better job. That’s a point of emphasis.”

He called them “gaps in areas of opportunities.”

If the athletic department does “one thing right” in the next few years, it will “get that youth infrastructure together,” Zupka said.

Then he allowed: “If we don’t take care of that it will not change.”

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Red Cross says 21 staffers paid for sexual service in past 3 years

Published: Saturday, February 24, 2018 @ 9:57 AM

International Red Cross.
Erich Schlegel/Getty Images
International Red Cross.(Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)

A member of the International Committee of the Red Cross said that in the past three years, 21 staff members have resigned or were fired for “paying for sexual services,” CNN reported.

>> Read more trending news

Two other staff members suspected of sexual misconduct also did not have their contracts renewed, according to Yves Daccord, director general of the ICRC.

"This behavior is a betrayal of the people and the communities we are there to serve. It is against human dignity and we should have been more vigilant in preventing this," Daccord said.

Daccord said staffers are required to adhere to the ICRC’s code of conduct, which bans paying for sexual services. The organization has more than 1,700 staff members worldwide, CNN reported.

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Flood watch, advisory in effect; heavy rain throughout the day

Published: Saturday, February 24, 2018 @ 5:32 AM
Updated: Saturday, February 24, 2018 @ 7:55 AM

Heavy rain will increase the flooding threat today. Storms tonight may produce damaging winds.

Flood advisory issued for:

Shelby, Darke, Central Auglaize and Southern Mercer Counties until 11:30 a.m.

At 7:34 a.m., radar indicated an area of heavy rain over the advisory area. Gauges in the area have indicated that up to three quarters of an inch of rain has fallen in the past hour, with another half to one inch possible in the next several hours. Minor flooding of low-lying and poorly drained streets, highways and underpasses will occur. In addition, farmland near creeks, streams and drainage ditches will experience minor flooding.

Some locations that will experience minor flooding include:

Sidney, Greenville, Wapakoneta, New Bremen, Minster, Versailles, St. Henry, Newport, Union City, Anna, Fort Loramie, Jackson Center, Ansonia, Botkins, New Knoxville, Waynesfield, Hardin, Webster, Russia and Gettysburg.

5 Day Forecast with Meteorologist McCall Vrydaghs

TODAY: A flood watch will be in effect for all counties until 10 a.m. Sunday. Rain develops and may be heavy at times, especially toward the evening. A few thunderstorms are possible in the evening and overnight. Isolated damaging winds and flooding will be the main threat tonight. Rainfall amounts of 1 inch to 3 inches will be possible by Sunday morning. Temperatures will rise into the lower to middle 50s into the evening, then will fall late tonight as a cold front passes.

>>Weekend to bring more rain, threat for strong storms

  • Rain at times for Saturday
  • Some strong to severe storms possible Saturday night
  • Main threat for isolated damaging winds and flooding
  • Additional 1 inch to 3 inches of rain possible 

TOMORROW: Any rain early will end quickly then clouds linger. Flooding still possible as rivers and streams continue to rise. Highs will be in the lower 50s and it will be windy at times. There will be gradually decreasing clouds through the night and chilly with temperatures falling into the lower 30s. Watch for isolated slick spots late with any leftover standing water. 

MONDAY: There will be a lot of sunshine and mild with highs in the lower 50s.

TUESDAY: There will be mostly sunny skies with mild temperatures in the upper 50s.

WEDNESDAY: Clouds return with the chance for showers. Highs will top out near 60 degrees.

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Outlook unclear at best in Congress as Trump pushes for actions to deter school shootings

Published: Saturday, February 24, 2018 @ 4:11 AM

In the wake of the recent mass shooting at a Florida high school, President Donald Trump on Saturday signaled again that he wants changes in background checks for those people who are buying firearms, as he emphasized his call for Congress to make a series of reforms to gun-related laws, also urging state and local officials to do more to toughen security at their schools.

“Congress is in a mood to finally do something on this issue – I hope!,” the President tweeted.

White House officials said Mr. Trump would again press his call for action on issues of school safety in coming days as he meets with the nation’s Governors, many of whom will be in Washington, D.C. for their yearly legislative conference.

But the question remains – what will the Congress do? Or what can Congress do?

1. Some details still murky on what the President wants to do. While the President has a ready list of items on which he is asking for action in the Congress, the exact details will determine how the Congress reacts. For example, Mr. Trump has repeatedly said he wants ‘comprehensive background checks with an emphasis on mental health’ – how that is structured is an extremely important point. While it may sound completely logical that someone who has mental issues should not be able to buy weapons, those details are not easily fleshed out.  While he has talked repeatedly about background checks, the President has never addressed the issue of private gun sales – what is sometimes referred to as the ‘gun show loophole’ – which is something members in both parties have talked about dealing with for several years.   At a Friday news conference with the Prime Minister of Australia, here’s how the President set out what he wants accomplished:

2. The push for the “Fix NICS” bill. Even before the Florida school shooting, there was a bipartisan effort to make some changes to ensure that more information is funneled into the background check system for gun buyers, whether it’s on mental health, or military charges which would disqualify someone who wants to buy a firearm. The House already passed the “Fix NICS” bill – but it was combined with another measure that approved a national “Concealed Carry” effort, which would allow anyone with a legal permit to carry a concealed weapon to do that in any state – even if that state has different laws and regulations governing such conduct. While that combination was approved by the House, it seems doomed in the Senate, and it is one reason that some lawmakers are now pressing for action on just the “Fix NICS” plan, which the President has endorsed.

3. How much would the Congress really do under Trump’s plans? This is a question that’s up for debate. Think of the President’s call for certain teachers or administrators to carry concealed weapons at schools – that seems more of a state and local matter than something which would be legislated by the Congress. Increasing security measures at schools – the Congress could deliver aid, but the idea of approving new spending is not exactly a popular item with some Republicans right now in the House and Senate. Changing the age of purchase for certain weapons like an AR-15 might sound attractive to some, but that is guaranteed to be controversial as well in Congress – especially when states might be able to take that same step on their own. The “gun violence restraining order” is another idea that’s popped up as a way to keep the mentally ill from access to firearms – but is that better done by state legislatures instead of the Congress?

4. There has been some movement in Congress – but not much. Yes, we have examples of members of Congress who have changed their position on certain gun issues, but by no means has there been an upheaval on Capitol Hill in the wake of the Florida school shooting, just like there was no major change after past school shootings. Yes, the President has talked to House and Senate leaders about the gun issue – but don’t expect gun legislation to be on the floor next week or anything. Here is one GOP lawmaker who said he wants to revisit that ban – but that’s just one.

5. The outlook for the short-term – more of the same. While the Florida school shooting has energized younger Americans and their call for action, there is no sense that Republicans are about to dramatically change course on guns. As someone who has covered the gun debates since the 1980’s in Congress, the House and Senate right now have large majorities in favor of gun rights – and it has been that way since Democrats pushed through the Brady law and an assault weapons ban back in the early 1990’s. Change could always happen – but as of now, it’s hard to see that occurring in 2018.

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