PC Kiwanis auction to fund drug education efforts locally

The Port Clinton Kiwanis Club is hosting the “Starry, Starry Night Live and Silent Auction” on Saturday, April 29, at the Port Clinton Yacht Club.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the STARR Project. The Start Talking About Risks and Realities Project is a cooperative effort between Ottawa County Sheriff Steve Levorchick, Common Pleas Court Judge Bruce Winters, Municipal Court Judge Fritz Hany, Probate and Juvenile Court Judge Kathleen Giesler, and Prosecutor James VanEerten to fight to save local youth from the drug epidemic.

The first phase of the project is to bring educational programs to high school students throughout the county.

Recently, several of the group leaders talked to the Kiwanis Club members.

“It’s not only a problem, it’s an epidemic,” Levorchick said about opiate and heroin addiction. “I have a family member who is addicted to heroin.” The sheriff said the family got the person who suffers from addiction into a detoxification program – but the person ended up back on the streets, addicted.

The sheriff told the group that opiate addicts are people just like themselves. “They’re our ages and they’re from our walks of life,” he said. “Many of them came from injuries they sustained and the prescriptions they were given,” he said. The problem is that when the prescription is gone, the addiction isn’t.

Ottawa County saw 16 overdose deaths in 2016 – and several more deaths of county residents occurred outside the county.

“Ohio is number one in the country in overdose deaths,” Levorchick said. Fentanyl and carfentanyl are often mixed with the opiates and heroin, making it so dangerous that law enforcement personnel cannot field test the substances for fear of the drug-laced dust could cause them to overdose.

Members of the STARR Project had been to a presentation for Erie County students by Tony Hoffman, a former BMX star who became addicted to drugs. Hoffman told those students he did not seek help until after he spent time homeless, was stabbed and ended up in a hospital in intensive care.

The STARR Project members would like to bring Hoffman, or another speaker with a similar message, to speak to Ottawa County students.

A future goal of the STARR Project is to expand the educational programs to students in middle school grades throughout the county, and eventually to all students.

Winters and Hany also spoke to the Kiwanis Club. “The judge, the prosecutor, and the sheriff, we see this problem at the wrong end. We need to fix it at the youthful end,” Winters said.

“We’re involved after something has happened,” Hany said. The judge said he has never seen the three judges, the prosecutor and the sheriff work together in this way – which is one sign of how serious the problem is. Opiate forums have been held in several locations throughout Ottawa County, and they will continue.

“If we don’t do something, this county is going to die. This town is dying,” Levorchick said. “If we don’t do something first, and get ahead of it, we’re going to be behind it.”

The Kiwanis Club members are hoping that the April 29 auction will raise enough money to help the STARR Project bring in a speaker, and to help with other efforts.

Dick Highfield, the local club president, said the auctions have been popular and successful.

“Last year we raised $25,000. This year the challenge is $30,000,” he said.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m.. Tickets are $20 per person. The event includes heavy hors d’oeuvres, music, raffles, a cash bar, and the auction of time shares, hotel stays, gift baskets, gift cards, jewelry and more.

For tickets, call Diane Belden at 419 967 0650 or contact any Kiwanis Club member.

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