DuBOIS — Mark Carrico said his eyesight was once so poor that he had trouble reading stop signs without wearing his glasses or contacts. But thanks to the handiwork of an ophthalmologist from DuBois, he hasn’t needed to wear either.
“Now I can read small things that are 15-20 feet away,” Carrico, of Altoona said. “It’s just incredible the difference.”
Carrico underwent laser vision correction, or LASIK surgery, in November through a contest held by Clearview Eye Consultants. The contest waived the cost of the procedure for one lucky armed service veteran and discounted it for a handful of others.
Carrico, who served in the National Guard, was nominated for the contest by his brother. Dr. Parag Parekh, who performed the procedure on Carrico, said the contest was organized to show appreciation for veterans.
“You hear so much in the news about soldiers and veterans and wars,” Parekh, of DuBois, said. “We talk a big talk, but what are we actually doing? And as an eye surgeon, one thing I can actually do is LASIK.”
Carrico said he joined the National Guard in 2002 and served for about six years, in one of which he was deployed to Kosovo. His brother and sister, he said, made their careers out of Guard service.
“It wasn’t a career decision for me. I loved it, but I had a wife and kids at home and it was taking a lot of time away from that,” he said.
Parekh said that the aim of LASIK surgery is to get people out of their glasses or contact lenses. He said it typically costs $4,500-$5,5000.
The procedure takes only about 10 minutes to perform, but it’s already made a big difference in Carrico’s life. He now not only sees clearly, he said, but no longer worries about misplacing his glasses or falling asleep with his contact lenses in.
“It’s great to know that there are companies out there willing to help our veterans out,” he said.
DuBOIS — Over 30 public safety and health officials gathered around the table Tuesday as a kickoff to the start of an Overdose Task Force in Clearfield and Jefferson counties.
The meeting was hosted by the Clearfield-Jefferson Drug & Alcohol Commission’s Heroin Task Force and was facilitated by Allison Burrell, a research specialist for the University of Pittsburgh PA Heroin Overdose Prevention Technical Assistance Center.
Across the state overdose task forces are being formed.
Burrell’s job is to work with county coalitions across the state to bring stakeholders together to combat the opioid epidemic. She has already worked with 48 of the 67 counties across the state.
Task force programs often include warm hand-offs between medical providers and behavioral health resources, data gathering, law enforcement strategies, and naloxone distribution programs.
Burrell said forming a coalition and getting programs on the ground is usually a three year process. Groups meet monthly and she is a resource for the group for as long as she’s needed.
“I think that if people knew what to do, they would do it. The problem is that it’s not just one thing that can solve it,” Burrell said. “There’s as many solutions to this as there is people, because each person has their own unique path that got them to where they are. It really comes down to how do you work with so many stories and connect them to treatment.”
Recently, the Stoltz Family Dealership donated $5,000 to the Heroin Task Force. CJDAC executive director Susan Ford said that money is being used to get the Overdose Task Force up and running.
The goal of the Overdose Task Force is not only to reduce overdoses but also to work to get people into sustained, long-term recovery.
Those around the table Tuesday included coroners, law enforcement, emergency responders, pharmacists, addiction specialists, a district attorney, as well as medication assisted treatment specialists.
“I think it went very well. There were lots of different viewpoints and discussions. We’re going to bring everyone back together to create a vision of what we want to focus on,” Ford said.
The state’s rate of drug overdoses has been more than twice the national average, and preliminary data indicates the number of overdose deaths rose again last year. Burrell said that increase is nearly 36 percent.
There were 13 overdose deaths in Clearfield County in 2016 and 8 in Jefferson County. Both county’s coroner’s reports for 2017 have not yet been released, but Ford is hearing that numbers are over what they were for 2016.
“Those numbers have really allowed communities to rise and build these task forces. While you’re seeing an increase (in overdoses), you’re also seeing an increased call to action,” Burrell said.
Of Tuesday’s meeting, she added, “Everyone’s frustrated. Everyone wants to solve the problem. And everyone is ready to get started.”
DuBOIS — There were two empty seats at the Treasure Lake Property Owners Association directors table for the January meeting this week.
The agenda included a motion to accept the resignation of directors Michael Yoha and Chris Miller. Both resigned after the January work session.
The vote to accept their resignations was unanimous.
Filling the vacant seats on the board of directors was not discussed.
Miller joined the board at the September meeting to fill the vacant seat of Frank Calderone, who resigned Aug. 1.
Current directors are: George Cobert, Steve Tuller, Larry Salone, David Singer, Joseph Sbaffoni, Richard Whitaker and Toni-Clark Moulthrop.
Before directors voted to accept the resignation of Miller, they voted to ratify action taken in the Jan. 15 executive session to sanction him.
Whitaker made a motion to authorize the president of the corporation to prepare a written warning, to be issued by a majority of the members of the TLPOA Board of Directors, which will be issued to Miller for violations of the corporation’s bylaws, board member manual and the corporation director’s pledge of commitment.
Whitaker read a statement that said this is the second sanction Miller. The motion is to clarify the position of the board of directors in regard to the statement made by Miller which was posted on the social media Treasure Lake Property Owners Facebook page. According to Whitaker the statement by Miller said three members of the previous TLPOA board of directors took Omni to a baseball game in a luxury suite on the TLPOA’s dime prior to contracting them to be the management company. This comment intimated that these individuals and by inference the TLPOA conducted themselves inappropriately. This action to sanction Miller should clarify to any court of law that neither the board of directors or the TLPOA knew of, approved of, supported or encouraged Miller in making the statement on social media.
The statement also said, with regard to any possible litigation concerning the written expressions made by Miller, he was not officially acting in any capacity as a director, did not act on behalf of the TLPOA, or with the knowledge of, or at the direction of the Board of Directors.
The vote was five in favor of the motion with two directors abstaining.
Tuller abstained saying he was not present at the executive session.
Salone said he abstained because of pending litigation.