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Merger of mental health, addiction services boards on hold

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ELYRIA — Lorain County’s Board of Mental Health and its Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services Board will not merge today, following a temporary restraining order granted Sunday night.

The Lorain County Board of Mental Health filed for an injunction Friday afternoon to prevent the boards from merging today. Lorain County Court of Common Pleas Judge Chris Cook granted the temporary measure Sunday, delaying the merger at least until an evidentiary hearing set for 9 a.m. July 9.

Lorain County is the only county in the state with separate mental health and addiction services boards.

The merger process, started in March, has caused some controversy with the current boards.

Board of Mental Health Director Kathleen Kern previously announced her resignation effective Sunday, calling the process “chaotic.” Kern and her counterpart on ADAS, Executive Director Elaine Georgas, have been critical of the amount of time given to finding new board members and whether or not their input was taken on those appointments. The commissioners appointed 10 of the 18 members of the new board, with the rest recommended by the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.

Cook’s opinion bluntly noted he did not believe the Mental Health Board would prevail or that the Lorain County commissioners exceeded their statutory authority by appointing members to the new board. Instead, he granted the order because the Mental Health Board — and ADAS — would dissolve at midnight July 1, and those ceasing to exist would bar the court from an opportunity to “challenge or scrutinize” the mode and manner in which the new board was created.

Cook’s opinion states that of the 10 members appointed by commissioners, four — plus two alternates — were appointed by recommendations from the current boards.

Under Cook’s orders, the resolution passed by the commissioners creating the new board is on hold, pending further orders from the court. In the meantime, the current boards will continue to serve in their full capacity.

County Commissioner Matt Lundy said commissioners plan to meet with Attorney Robert Cahill today.

“Nothing good comes easy,” he said. “In the meantime, we remain the only county out of 88 in Ohio with two separate boards for addiction services and mental health.”

Contact Carissa Woytach at 329-7245 or cwoytach@chroniclet.com.


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