Safety stressed at Canfield Fair

CANFIELD – While food, fun and farm animals are usually on the mind of most fair-goers, the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office took the opportunity to educate people about safety.

As the 167th installment of the Canfield Fair kicked off Wednesday under threatening skies, Mahoning County Sheriff Jerry Greene unveiled his department’s HOMESAFE program.

HOMESAFE is a database the sheriff’s office can access to ensure the safe return of people’s loved ones who “are unable to adequately communicate vital information – such as their name or address – to law enforcement officers.”

Modeled after the Take Me Home program Summit County has had for a few years, Greene designed HOMESAFE to assist citizens in Mahoning County with disabilities, Sgt. TJ Assion said. Greene decided to install the program this summer after a young man in Ellsworth Township went missing for few days, he said.

“We were talking about developing a program like that for a while, but the missing persons incident ignited the fire,” Assion said.

Deputy Greg Taillon said all information registered through the program is strictly viewed by law enforcement personnel only. The program targets vulnerable citizens at high-risk and who’ll possibly go missing, such as Alzheimer’s patients, family members with autism or dementia, or those who suffer from other developmental disabilities that prohibit them from efficiently communicating with others.

“The purpose is to register adults’ or children’s contact information in the database so they can be returned to their loved ones,” Taillon said. “If the county gets a phone call or we encounter them, we have an ID.”

Information included in the database is the person’s name, photo, type of disability, medication and other personal information necessary to appropriately assist him or her. Should registered individuals ever go missing, officers will then have all the contact information at hand and can work diligently to bring them home.

“It’s all the information we need in the event someone goes missing,” Greene said. “It’s for people with disabilities, like Alzheimer’s or dementia, if they just wonder off.”

The sheriff’s office has had a booth at the Canfield Fair for the past 14 years, but this is the first year HOMESAFE was included. Though the program had a slow start on the first day of the event, Greene said it’s because of light advertisement.

He said the department’s primary goal was to use the fair as a way to attract a larger group of people who weren’t familiar with the program.

“It’s a start. There’s more people there than normal,” Greene said. “Next we’re moving to different schools in the area and some senior centers.”

Registration for the HOMESAFE program is available every day of the Canfield Fair from 1 to 4 p.m. After Labor Day, registration can be acquired through the Mahoning County Justice Center.

Sponsored by the Mahoning County Agricultural Society, the Canfield Fair consists of more than 350 acres including 178 acres of midway.

Daily exhibits also include those of antique engines, tractor displays, arts and crafts, foods and baked goods, county education, 4-H and grange booths, health and wellness demonstrations and the historic Western Reserve Village.