Vision, Issues, & Values
Berks County’s Opioid Coalition SOS Berks
Firstly, I have been the Co-Chair of Berks’ Opioid Coalition for about 3 years since its’ creation and our vision is slowly becoming a reality. We have branded ourselves as SOS Berks. Also, our team has been working with the Pennsylvania Opioid Overdose Reduction Technical Assistance Center through University of Pittsburgh, School of Pharmacy. Above all, we want to achieve the vision of a clean Berks County.
SOS Berks has also developed a plan with the help of the TAC. Overall, we are a dedicated group made up of key stakeholders and community members who meet at least once a month and share the same vision. To name a few: Council on Chemical Abuse, Berks County’s District Attorney, MH/DD, Aging, Jail, Coroner, Caron Treatment, Berks County Medical Society, Easy Does It, Adult/Teen Challenge, NAACP, EMS providers, Dr. Barbera and Dr. Santoro from Tower Health, and many more! Presently, our vision is to accomplish 8 goals. Some key accomplishments: the Warm Hand off program at Tower Health and Penn State Health St. Joseph, BlueCares, Narcan distribution, education in the community/workplaces, The Response Magazine, SOS Berks Facebook and www.SOSBerks.com.
Lastly, the newest issue of our magazine “The Response” is HERE! Check out the online edition now: http://www.nxtbook.com/…/Res…/TheReponseSummer2019/index.php – For print copies or more information, please contact me or the Council on Chemical Abuse 610-376-8669.
Kevin’s Position on Public Libraries in Berks
Presently, Berks County has provided a significant amount of tax dollars to support the efforts of our member libraries while other funding sources have diminished. Explicitly, I thank the member boards and employees for their efforts to stretch a dollar to provide this important community service.
Following, libraries are important to the overall well-being of our county and these libraries have flexed to meet the needs of our community.
Also, I have proposed to increase the 2020 County budget by two percent in both the contribution to the system and two percent to the County contribution to the Reading Public Library District Center. Generally, these increases should go directly to wage increases for the employees. Although they are not County employees, they too should have the ability to receive a modest increase in wages.
KEVIN’S POSITION ON THE BERKS COUNTY JAIL
Allow me to set the record straight regarding my stance on the issue of privatizing the Berks County Jail. I AM TOTALLY AGAINST THE PRIVATIZATION OF THE COUNTY JAIL and have said so consistently from the onset.
While Commissioner I have been the chair of the Prison Board for the past twelve years. Furthermore, I meet regularly with the Warden and senior staff to review issues that can improve overall operations.
Further, of sixty county jails in the Commonwealth, Delaware County is the only one that is privately operated. So, I took the opportunity to tour the Delaware County Jail in the summer of 2017. However, I was less than impressed with the overall conditions of the housing units and specifically the medical unit. Comparatively, the starting pay and the corrections officers’ turnover rate of 35%. Evidently, one would question the level of professionalism and commitment in a “for-profit” county jail.
I continue to be fully committed to improving the existing jail and its mission of: The Berks County Jail System is intended to establish a secure institutional environment that serves to provide protection and safety for the citizens, staff and the legally incarcerated of Berks County, while meeting the standards established for this purpose by the American Correctional Association and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. This will be accomplished through the use of a cost-effective organization and procedures that provide for security, social restoration and (re)habilitation in the jail environment.
KEVIN’S POSITION ON THE BERKS HEIM
Presently, it is clear to me that many folks in the community see a headline or news clip that states, “The Commissioners” and often assume that it’s the collective decision of the entire board regarding many decisions made about the future of the Heim.
In 2017, I publicly stated that I’m in favor of keeping the Heim in County hands. Additionally, I have never been in favor of selling the Berks Heim. It is a true gem in our community. The Heim is well managed, well maintained and the nursing and support staff are some of the best in the business.
I want to thank the staff and public that have been at many of our meetings and shared their concerns about the future of the Heim. Also, I can see it in the eyes of the staff and hear it in their voices that they dedicate their hearts and souls in caring for the folks that need the best care possible in the twilight of their lives.
Above all, I will do everything in my power to keep the Berks Heim in County hands now and well into the future.