Wednesday, November 29, 2000

Village to get 3rd mayor of year

Replacement quits to take promotion

By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HARVEYSBURG — This Warren County village has lost its mayor for the second time this year.

        Perry Shepard, a councilman who replaced Woody Andrew as mayor this sum mer, is resigning effective next week, he announced Monday night in a Village Council meeting.

        Councilman Raymond Roberts will become the next mayor.

        Mr. Shepard said his departure has nothing to do with the controversy over Teen Reach, a religious program for troubled teens operating in Harveysburg. In fact, Mr. Shepard doesn't mind that he and council have taken heat from residents for not opposing Teen Reach earlier, he said Tuesday.

        “It gets a little government involvement out of the citizens,” he said.

        Mr. Shepard is moving to Kansas, his native state, to take a promotion with his employer, Job Corps.

        Mr. Andrew resigned in June amid financial troubles in the village that included several checks bouncing. The retiree announced plans to move to Florida, but he hasn't left yet.

        Mr. Shepard's departure comes on the heels of the village's filing Monday of a lawsuit against Teen Reach and its operators.

        The lawsuit, in Warren County Common Pleas Court, seeks to have Teen Reach removed from a single-family house on Loraine Avenue. Not only is it a zoning violation to run a group home there, the suit says, but the property lacks a valid occupancy permit.

        Teen Reach officials could not be reached for comment Tuesday, but the Rev. Bobby Torres, the president, has said the program is a religious group, not a group home. Teen Reach literature, however, says the program offers treatment for alcohol and other drug problems and “heals your son or daughter from any mental illness.”

        Also Monday, council passed an ordinance asking the state Fire Marshal's Office to investigate homes on Clark Avenue that Teen Reach is using. The concern is that those homes do not meet fire codes for group homes, Mr. Shepard said, as the Fire Marshal's Office also has alleged about the Loraine Avenue house.

        “We fear for the safety of the young people there,” he said.

        The new mayor, Mr. Roberts, could not be reached for comment Tuesday. Applications are being accepted for his council seat, and a new member could be appointed at the next meeting, Dec, 11, Mr. Shepard said.


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