By Amanda Ensinger
The drug epidemic continues to afflict the westside and Franklin Township has seen the impact firsthand as a rash of overdoses have been reported. At a recent board meeting, officials discussed the ongoing problem.
“There has been a dramatic spike in overdoses since the beginning of the month,” said Franklin Township Assistant Police Chief David Ratliff. “There must have been a bad batch because we have had multiple overdoses in the same day.”
According to trustee Aryeh Alex, the situation is so bad right now that the Franklin County Coroner’s Office and prosecutor’s office have released statements cautioning drug users that there are fatal doses of heroin and cocaine spiked with fentanyl on the streets right now in an attempt to caution users.
According to the coroner’s office, 10 people died of fatal overdoses in Columbus neighborhoods in the westside, south side and Linden area within 24 hours recently.
Other crime issues were also discussed at the meeting, including an update on criminal activity for 2019. In 2019, township police took 7,194 dispatch runs, drove more than 62,000 miles, wrote 1,197 citations and took 294 accident reports.
“We also wrote 8,378 camera citations,” Ratliff said. “Meaning this was the amount of people we cited for speeding in the township via our new traffic camera system.”
The new traffic camera system cites drivers for going 10 miles per hour or more over the speed limit. One police officer operates the handheld camera during school hours and monitors for speeders.
“Each speeding ticket is priced at a flat $100 fee,” said Franklin Township Police Chief Byron Smith. “This is significantly lower than the average speeding ticket in Ohio, which starts at about $140 and goes up with an increase in speed.”
The township has raised several hundred thousand on the citations in 2019. Out of those funds, 59 percent went to the police department for school safety, 2 percent went to the community scholarship fund, 2 percent went to community engagement and the remaining funds went to the general fund and road department.
As a result of the new ticketing system, the township has used those funds to award three $1,000 scholarships to local graduating seniors. The township also donated $1,000 to the Ohio Youth Development for the Havenwood Afterschool Youth Scholarship Program and gave $200 to Franklin Heights High School’s Special Olympics Fund.
In other news, the township is considering partnering with the county and city to create a tiny homes community.
“They have done these in Denver and they have been very successful,” said John Fleshman, township trustee. “If we could find a large piece of land and figure out sewer and water hookup, it could be a very successful project. We also would be the first community in Ohio to offer this.”
For the project to start, the township would have to find a property that has at least 15 lots.
“If we could find a property of this size, the tax revenue this could generate would be very beneficial to the township,” Fleshman said. “It would be a great investment in the community.”