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Bellevue Seeks New Council Member, Answers for Heroin Costs

The Bellevue City Council is searching for a new member.

Melissa Tatum, first elected in 2014 and reelected in 2016, tendered her resignation at Wednesday night's meeting. 

She was not present. In fact, that's why she resigned. In an email to the mayor, city council, and city administrator, Tatum said that she did not come by her decision easily, but her effort to earn a master's degree at Northern Kentucky University has required her attendance at classes that conflict with Bellevue's Wednesday night city council meetings. 

"And it has been made clear missing a meeting here and there will not be forgiven," wrote Tatum, who had missed council's monthly meetings in January, February, and April this year. "Unfortunately I cannot work my school schedule around the meetings."

At April's city council meeting, a motion was made to excuse Tatum's absence. Questions were raised about how many meetings council members are able to miss.

The City of Bellevue council has thirty days to fill the vacancy, and if it fails to do so, the task falls to Governor Matt Bevin. Council is offering interested parties the opportunity to apply for the job. Applicants must be residents of the city for at least one year, must be at least 18-years old, a qualified voter, and must live in Bellevue while serving. 

Applicants are asked to email or send a letter of intent to City Administrator Keith Spoelker at [email protected] or 616 Poplar Street, Bellevue, Ky., 41073 by 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 24. 

Candidates who meet the state's criteria will then be forwarded to council members for vetting and evaluation, the city said in an announcement. The city hopes to have a new council member in place by May 31.

City concerned about increase in heroin overdoses

Police Chief Wayne Turner urged residents of Bellevue that if they see something, to say something when it comes to the increase in heroin-related overdoses in the city. During his report to council, it was noted that one address in the city had had multiple responses related to drugs. "If you see people coming or going from certain residences, let us know," Turner said. 

The conversation continues one that has been happening in neighboring Dayton, with whom Bellevue shares its fire department which nearly ran out of heroin overdose-reversal medication, Narcan. "We're using Narcan faster than we can get it," Turner told council. 

A conversation that happened in Dayton last week about pursuing the possibility of billing overdose patients on whom Narcan was used, but Turner said that it is difficult to collect from such patients. 

The top priority, he said, is to save people's lives and not to discourage witnesses from calling 911 if a friend or family member is overdosing. "Let's save their life first," Turner said.

Another emerging problem on top of the strengthened heroin that is mixed with deadly fentanyl or carfentanyl is what is called the Gray Death, a synthetic heroin that is popping up in the region, Turner said. With the increased strength of the drugs, more of the costly Narcan is needed to save a patient's life - and sometimes patients refuse to be transported to the hospital and the Narcan will wear off before the overdose is fully complete, forcing emergency responders back to the scene to tend to the same patient, the chief said.

Code enforcement complaint

Multiple residents showed up to complain about code enforcement in the city. Typically, the code enforcement department is not part of the regulat council meetings, but that may changed based on the volume of concerns.

"We have a problem with code enforcement," said Councilman Steve Guidugli, who suggested that code enforcement officer be invited to next month's council meeting to answer citizens' questions. "If it takes the code enforcement officer/building inspector to be here to answer these questions directly, for the constituents who pay his salary, that's what we need to do. We need results."

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher