Thursday, April 13, 2000

Monroe adds 74 acres for park

BY Janet C. Wetzel
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MONROE — City Council agreed this week to buy new parkland and to fund a program that will provide employees and their families professional help to deal with such things as personal, fam ily and emotional problems.

        The nearly 74 acres of parkland, the city's first in decades, will be turned into youth sports fields and possibly picnic areas by next year. The city will pay $213,429 for the land, which sits just off Garver Road.

        The city soon will contract for the new Employees Assistance Program (EAP), which is expected to benefit employees and ultimately the city. The EAP is part of a continuing update of the city's personnel policy, City Manager Don Whitman said.

        Council on Tuesday agreed, 7-0, to spend a total of $1,820 annually to contract with Partnership EAP, in Middletown, to provide intervention services for all 65 full- and part-time employees and family members who live with them.

        The service includes up to eight counseling sessions per problem, including alcohol and other drugs. Confidentiality is assured.

        “It's been found that employees who don't bring their personal problems to work are more productive,” Mr. Whitman said. “And theoretically it's also supposed to reduce health insurance costs be cause when employees use this intervention, it could save trips to the doctor and medication costs.”

        The Monroe Fire Department already provides employees an assistance program, Mr. Whitman said.

        The company also provides counseling for fire and police officers who have been involved in traumatic incidents, he said.

        Council also approved revisions to the city zoning code aimed at strengthening sexually oriented business ordinances. The changes go into effect in 30 days.

        One proposed supplement, which would provide licensing and regulation of sexually oriented businesses, was not ready for council consideration but should be ready by early May.


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