By Frank Lewis
First Ward Portsmouth City Councilman Kevin W. Johnson has taken out petitions to run for Scioto County Commissioner, specifically the seat currently occupied by Mike Crabtree.
“Watching government in Scioto County and especially the County Commission, except for one of the members, I have noticed there’s not the support that I would expect for the Southern Ohio Port Authority (SOPA), support for what the Scioto County Health Coalition (SCHC) is doing as regards to our health outcomes,” Johnson said. “We rank last in the state in every possible health indices and outcome there is. There is just so much that the County Commission could be lending its support to and coordinating or help coordinating what I see as a great benefit that will come by the new Veterans Highway and the new economic development I have no doubt will occur along the new corridor, especially close to the airport in Minford.”
Johnson said, with a population of barely 75,000, each of the county commissioners should be working more closely with the city of Portsmouth, the village of New Boston, and the trustees in the various townships.
“We’re in this together,” Johnson said. “In addition, given that we are so small; many of our services (are duplicated).”
Johnson used as an example; the 911 emergency system which he says should be considered for consolidation.
“We have three of them in this county,” Johnson said. “We have the county, we have New Boston and we have Portsmouth. And that is creating problems. In discussions with ODOT (Ohio Department of Transportation), and with SOPA, that is going to create issues along the Veterans Highway. People try to call 911, what jurisdiction are they going to be in? There are only so many accesses on the Veterans Highway, so that has become a big issue with the ambulance companies and the EMS. Some of our calls are going into Kentucky when someone dials 911. It’s not a good system.”
Johnson was asked about the fact that there are two health departments within a block of each other.
“That never made sense to me,” Johnson said. “They keep on telling me that they do different things, but health is health.”
Johnson then mentioned the county has a separate TB clinic.
“I’ve never understood that,” Johnson said. “From what I hear, in the last five years they have had one client with TB. That’s not to say that the clinic shouldn’t continue, absolutely it should, but it should be folded in under the county’s health department if we are going to maintain the two health departments.”
Johnson suggested the TB clinic should not have its own facilities, but instead should be moved into the current Scioto County Health Department.
Johnson has served on City Council since January 2010.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.