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Council Member Patrick Mcgee speaks at a city council meeting Monday, August 22, 2016. (CAMILLE FINE | FOR THE POST)

City Council: Athens Community Center to have a staff position dedicated to working with SPMI adults

Athens City council members were in support for a proposal that would create a position on the Athens Community Center staff dedicated to working with adults who suffer from severe and persistent mental illness.

Andrew Chiki, assistant director of Athens Parks and Recreation Department, presented the idea before city council during tonight’s meeting.

Chiki said he saw a need for the position because he felt as of now, the community center did not have the resources to provide individualized wellness and care for SPMI adults.

The proposal would require a joint effort between the community center, Hopewell Health Centers and COMCorp.

COMCorp is an AmeriCorps program housed in Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine's Community Health Programs that brings service members to work as a part of health-related programs.

The goal is to train the COMCorp service member to work with SPMI adults and provide them with resources to assist the Community Center.

COMCorp covers living expenses for the service members. The remaining cost to hire each indiviual, which is $7,005, will be split between the Community Center and Hopewell Health.

“Well, I can not think of a better use of $3,502, I think this will be a very beneficial program,” Athens Mayor Steve Patterson said.

Council members also showed unanimous support for the idea.

“When you have adults dealing with mental illness who have children, setting an example of eating well and exercising and getting healthcare makes an impact,” Councilwoman Michele Papai, D-3rd Ward, said. “It is difficult to connect and feel a part of the community. When you go to the community center, having someone to guide you would be great.”

Council also revisited the Moore Avenue project as Ohio University Planner, Shawna Bolin, returned before Council to request the city vacate that lot.

Moore Avenue is a strip of land that connects Factory Street with Shafer Street. The university is hoping to use the space as the home for the OU HCOM.

Bolin said the strip of land is currently being used mostly by pedestrians to walk through. 

Council members stressed that if the project is approved, it does not set a precedent of the city vacating land to OU.

“It’s not setting a precedent, our streets remain our streets,” said Councilwoman Chris Fahl, D-4th Ward said.

In 2009, Athens city approved an ordinance for gas aggregation, but the measure was never implemented.

Governmental gas aggregation allows for cities to form aggregated buying groups on behalf of their citizens. The hope is a large buying group may be able to get a better price for the resource than an individual would.

Chuck Keiper, executive director of the Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council, a retail governmental aggregator, spoke to council inviting the city to join NOPEC.

“We use purchasing techniques of mass buying, bid regularly for natural gas and electricity and try to bring financially stable providers with diverse power base,” Keiper said.

If the city was to join, individual residents who did not want to be a part of NOPEC are able to opt out.

Athens participates in energy aggregation through the Southeast Ohio Public Energy Council. 


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