Knox County Mental Health Board holds inaugural meeting

After Knox County voters overwhelmingly approved the formation of a 708 Board of Mental Health today when they met for the first time.

Members Jon Schlaf, Tasha Easley, Luke Raymond, Steven Watts, Dick Conklin and Carol Maloney elected former Knox County Chair Greg “Chops” Bacon as their chairman.

The group represents an array of different perspectives involving the world of mental health.

Schlaf is a retired police officer, Maloney’s son is physically and mentally disabled, Easley is a licensed clinician and Watts is a retired attorney.

Members are in the exploratory phase of what the board will look like, how it will function and finding out the extent of Knox County’s mental health needs.

They will familiarize themselves the needs assessment survey performed by a separate committee last year and they also heard from heads of Bridgeway and DD Homes today.

Bacon admits there will be a learning curve, saying “This is a whole new thing, it’s not some board that’s was established that had veterans on it that we could just come in and just pick and choose, pick their brains, and stuff like that.” he also added that “I think there’s going to be a lot of reading, and studying, and questions for the first couple three-four meetings.”

The board won’t have any funds until June 2018 but Schlaf suggested that the board work diligently to set up guidelines and priorities for funding as soon as possible.

At least to start the group will meet several times a month, even though they are only obligated to meet quarterly, in part because they only have 4 months to set up 1-year and 3-year spending plans.