The City of Athens is helping OhioHealth O'Bleness Hospital buy a forensic machine for their emergency room to more effectively examine sexual assault patients.

The machine, a colposcope, costs $16,000 and Keller Blackburn, the county prosecutor, is raising money to help purchase one. Athens City Council will vote to donate $500 from the Law Enforcement Trust Fund at their meeting Monday. 

A colposcope is especially useful in instances of child sexual abuse cases because the video and photo technology makes it so that only one examination is needed with only one examiner in the room.

The medical photographs and videos can later be reviewed by professionals, without the victim having to be present.

Also on the agenda for Monday’s meeting, council members will make a decision on East State Street renovation project, which could include a bike lane, new sidewalk and exit ramp onto U.S. 33.

At last week’s meeting, many members of the Athens community spoke out on the matter — some in favor and some against the project.

Andy Stone, Athens city engineer and director of Public Works, said the main reason for the changes is to reduce traffic accidents and congestion.

Residents against the measure felt they had not been properly consulted by council and requested that the ordinance be tabled until there is more discussion and information.

Those in support of the proposal were concerned that if the project would be delayed any further, the grants funding the project would be lost.

“I think it was very helpful to get feedback from city staff on design of it and how it fits into our plan and helpful to get feedback from citizens,” Council President Chris Knisely said. “We’ll see how the discussion and vote goes tomorrow.”

Council members will also likely pass an ordinance making it easier for protesters to get a parade permit, reducing the time for people to apply three weeks to seven days. Also, the consequence for not having a permit will be reduced from a misdemeanor to an administrative fine.

Athens Police Chief Tom Pyle suggested the change to council last month after 70 demonstrators were arrested on criminal trespassing charges in Baker University Center on Feb. 1.

Council members raised concerns that there was not enough police protection for the protesters to guide them through traffic and proposed a solution aimed at making protests safer.

“The way things are going at the national level, we will continue to see people protesting increasingly,” Councilwoman Chris Fahl, D-4th Ward, said at February’s council meeting. “It is important we find a way to let people protest these things in a safe way.”


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