Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times
If Tonya Bond-Judd has her way, downtown Olive Hill could be getting 30 more professional office jobs, and the city and county could be getting occupational taxes that are currently going to Morehead and Rowan county.
Judd discussed many different things with council during their rescheduled regular meeting last month; including misperceptions about what services A Center 4 Change offers, and what her plans were for a building she purchased downtown, as well as her family’s ties to Olive Hill. The main purpose of her visit, however, was to ask for help navigating the permitting process required to begin renovations on the building. She also wished to begin healing a public rift between the center and the city.
One of the misperceptions Judd discussed was that the business was very new, and that they were a suboxone clinic. She said the business – which has locations in Ashland, Russell, Grayson, Olive Hill, and Morehead – has been around since opening their first Ashland location in 2016 and clarified that only thirty percent of their clients were dealing with addiction issues. The rest are there for other counseling or mental health services. Of those who are dealing with addiction issues, Judd explained, an even smaller number are prescribed suboxone which she described as “just one tool in the tool box” and not one that would be used throughout treatment. Most of their addiction clients, she explained, are also dealing with other issues as well. Depression and addiction, or PTSD and addiction,
for instance. While some of those people might be able to work on issues that drive them to seek drugs without needing to use suboxone, she said, there are others who need to “build a foundation” first and suboxone can be one of the tools to help them do that.
Anyone who is prescribed suboxone, she explained, is assessed first by a physician, and they use step-down dosages to wean them off the drug over time. She estimated there were fewer than 50 people currently prescribed suboxone through the A Center 4 Change clinics.
“We just want to help,” she said, before apologizing to Mayor Jerry Callihan for her disagreement with the city over how to proceed with her building after she purchased it.
Callihan explained that council had decided that any time a building with existing first floor residential apartments changed hand, they wanted to remove the ability to maintain or put new residential spaces on the first floor – preferring to reserve all that space for business use. Judd’s attorney – noting the value implicit in first floor residential space – advised her not to surrender any existing residential footage, arguing that it was grandfathered in since it already existed in the building.
Judd explained that while she has used upstairs apartment space for intern housing, she decided to remove all residential space from the new building, and to use it fully as office space for the A Center 4 Change corporate headquarters.
With the A Center 4 Change clinic, she said, she wanted to offer locals a service “without having to go to Ashland or Morehead,” explaining she knows transportation can be a barrier to seeking and continuing to receive help.
With the corporate office, she explained, she wants to bring her corporate office employees, most of whom hail from around Olive Hill, closer to home. She also wants to take the money currently being invested in Rowan County occupational taxes and put it towards Carter County’s tax base instead.
“They don’t need to be driving to Rowan County… when we can put those taxes to work right here at home,” she told council.
As Judd worked to find and build on common ground with the mayor and council, councilperson Shannon Shutte told Judd that transparency was important to her. They discussed the need for another business license and skepticism from some locals based on past business scams. In response Judd noted her family’s roots in the community, which reach back to the 19th century, and began naming individuals from different families who had been lost to the drug epidemic – many of whom had been friends of her daughter. Outsiders, she noted, might offer the same services A Center 4 Change did, but they didn’t know those names or what they meant to the families.
Council continued to discuss what needed to be done to allow Judd to move forward with improvements on her property and city clerk and treasurer Chimila Hargett said she would process the checks and paperwork for the necessary permits and would put Judd’s construction manager in charge with the code enforcement officer.
In other action council moved to approve minutes and accept various department reports. Council and the mayor also discussed generators, as a part of the design for the new water treatment plant and as the portable generators the city had driven around to different pumping stations to keep water flowing during the power outages.
Council also moved to approve the appointment of Jennifer Guthrie to the library board before entering into an executive session.
Upon returning from executive session council moved to adopt a municipal order, municipal order 2021-01, creating the position and setting the pay classification for a paid fire chief. After voting on that measure council moved to appoint Jeremy Rodgers as the city’s new fire chief and code enforcement officer, with pay as described for fire chief.
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