Health board eyes levy renewal

LISBON — Voters within the Columbiana County General Health District are going to be asked to renew the .2 mill levy, which has funded the Cancer Clinic for the past 40 years.

The 10-year levy costs the owner of a $100,000 property about $5 per year, Health Commission Wes Vins said at Thursday’s meeting when the board voted to place the tax renewal on the ballot.

“This is really a case of neighbors helping neighbors,” Vins said. “It’s local money helping local people.”

The levy generates $237,500 and is one of the main funding sources for the clinic, which offers free cancer screenings such as digital mammograms, pap tests, pelvic exams, prostate tests, skin cancer screenings and lung cancer screenings. It is often a way for those without insurance to get a needed test.

Vins said the cancer clinic began in 1965 and was at first supported by the state. However, when the state stopped financial support in 1976, the board of health picked up the cost for about three years. Unable to sustain it, in 1979 the board first went to the voters to ask for the levy. Since 1980, the levy has been a major supporter of the program, along with donations from the community and grants.

Additionally, Vins said it is the generosity of health care professionals and laboratories which provide their services for a low cost that helps the cancer clinic serve more people.

“Beyond the service, we navigate them to the next step,” Vins said of those who require treatment after a cancer diagnosis. “We’ll find the resources and get them connected with programs that can help them.”

Vins said he and the staff at the health department are very proud of the cancer clinic, which is the only one he knows of at a county health department. He points out numerous lives in Columbiana County are being positively impacted for just $5 per year.

“It gives everybody a shot,” Vins said. “It’s free and it’s local.”

After the board voted on Thursday to place the issue on the ballot, it should appear on the November ballot.