Managers discuss plans at Speak-Up Speak-Out
The novel coronavirus pandemic, Midway Mall and community violence were on the discussion table on January 8 as part of a 22nd annual Speak-Up and Speak-Out program.
The annual forum invites leaders from local communities and social service agencies to answer questions from the people they serve. Sponsors included Lorain NAACP, Elyria-Oberlin NAACP, National Council of Negro Women and Lorain Negro Business and Professional Women.
It was the 22nd year of the event and guests included Claudia Jones, Elyria-Oberlin NAACP vice president; Earl Head, President of the Lorain NAACP; Regan Phillips of NCNW; and Inez James from NBPW. Sylvia DuVall was co-moderator with Morning Journal Editor-in-Chief Darryl Q. Tucker.
The two-hour session was put online for 2022 to avoid gatherings and the risk of COVID-19, and up to 47 people participated in at least part of the discussion.
Lorain County Health Commissioner Mark Adams reported on the latest developments regarding COVID-19.
Test kits have become scarce, but an additional 500 million are expected to be released within the next 10-14 days, he said.
Lorain County currently has 34 vaccination partners, pharmacies where people can get vaccinated against COVID-19. Lorain County Public Health currently has vaccines available by appointment or walk-in on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
Lorain County is considered a highly vaccinated county, although it is estimated that up to 106,000 people have not been vaccinated, Adams said.
If anyone has any questions about the safety of the vaccine, Adams urged people to call him at the agency because he wouldn’t do something that isn’t safe. Lorain County Public Health is available at 440-322-6367 or 440-244-2209, or online at lorraincountyhealth.com.
Midway Shopping Center
Elyria City officials are hoping to find a new tenant for the Midway Shopping Center, said Mark Ballard II, Liaison Officer for Elyria Mayor Frank Whitfield.
The city will use some of its federal pandemic relief money to build community relationships through local social service organizations, with training for Elyrians to work from home, Ballard said.
A booming issue concerns Elyria’s economy and the city administration is hoping to find “a significant tenant” with a health and wellness center in Midway Mall this year, Ballard said. Bringing jobs back to the community will be a priority for Elyria’s American Rescue Plan Act money, he said.
Ballard declined to reveal details, but noted that the mall was dezoned last year to be used for light industrial purposes. Whitfield was unable to attend most of the session due to the family’s funeral that took place that day.
The Lorain County Board of Mental Health, Addiction and Recovery Services hopes to have a cost and location analysis for a new crisis stabilization center by mid-February.
The 32-bed center would have access to treatment services for anyone facing addiction or mental health crises, said Michael Doud, executive director of the Lorain County Mental Health, Addiction and Recovery Services Council. .
The Lorain County Board of Directors and Commission have committed funds for the project. The board members are thrilled with it, but want to make sure the plans are as perfect as possible because there will only be one opportunity to build it, Doud said.
Construction would take around 18 months to purchase and renovate an existing facility to 24 months to build a new one. Similar facilities around Ohio are struggling to keep their staff, Doud said.
Ballard and Lorain Mayor Jack Bradley have spoken on several occasions about their various outreach efforts, hiring practices, and responses to violence and community safety.
Lorain will hire 10 police officers and contact young people to explain the dangers of having a gun and the consequences if it is used in a crime, Bradley said.
The increase in violence is a national problem due to COVID-19 and other factors, including economic factors and employment, Ballard said. The town of Elyria is cracking down with a police presence, but has also formed a monthly community group to reflect on violence reduction, he said.
Jeff Graham, general manager and superintendent of schools in the town of Lorain, admitted that he was aware of a lawsuit against the school district alleging that a staff member forced an elementary student to eat food taken in a trash can. The district fired the paraprofessional and principal involved.
Graham also acknowledged that distance and hybrid learning of the COVID-19 pandemic has shown the importance of the personal interaction that Lorain students need with each other and with their teachers for education to be effective.
Lorain County Commissioner Matt Lundy praised state lawmakers for raising the state’s public transportation dollars to $ 70 million. But he tore them apart for miserably funding public transit, making it a small part of Ohio’s $ 7 billion transportation plan approved every two years.
Anyone concerned about public transit should contact state lawmakers to increase state funding.