Overton County News Overton County News - An Award Winning Newspaper - Livingston, Tennessee
homeabout ussubscriptionskids cornerlocal linkscontact us
News
Events
Society
80 Years Ago
Obituaries
Sports
Weather
Classifieds
Archives

Archives 03-14-2001

News

 

 

Methadone Clinic Discussed At Public Hearing
School Calendar Changed, Linder Resignation Accepted
Lillydale Campground Closed For 2001


 

Methadone Clinic Discussed At Public Hearing
By Robert Forsman

Does Livingston need a methadone clinic? That was the scheduled topic of discussion at a public meeting held last week at Joe E. Evins Community Center.

Those in attendance included law enforcement officers, self-described methadone users, doctors, local officials, and private citizens. Two state employees monitored and recorded the meeting.

"We are from the Tennessee Department of Health and Policy Planning and Assessment and Research, office of Statistics and Research," one employee said. "Our department reviews applications submitted to the state for certificate of need. I emphasis, our department reviews and writes summaries for the Health Facilities Commission.

"We do not have an opinion, one way or the other, but we are charged with the responsibility of assessing these hearings. We come out and we listen to the opinions that you all have and write them down and submit them with the application to the Health Facilities Commission for determination. The Health Facilities Commission, makes the decision whether the application will be approved, denied or deferred.

"If you are interested in attending that meeting, it will be held on March 28, 2001 at 8:30 a.m. at the Bell-South Towers on Commerce in downtown Nashville. You can call 615-741-2364 on how to attend the hearing or how to send written statements to the commission.

"The applicant, Ms. Geraldine Copeland, will be allowed to speak for 10 to 12 minutes concerning her application." Copeland said, "I have made up an application for a certificate of need for a methadone outpatient treatment clinic in Livingston."

After explaining how using methadone has contributed the recovery of a family member from addiction, Copeland went on to say, "I think a lot of information has been given out on methadone. I think a lot of people know a lot about methadone. But I also think that there's a lot of things you don't understand.

"Methadone is a Class II narcotic. When you take methadone, you start to a clinic and they give you a daily dose. The first couple days, you stay in that clinic, probably I think it's for the first two weeks, to make sure it's a good dose, that you're not too sedated, but that you don't have withdrawal symptoms from the other drugs.

"What methadone does is block that high from other drugs and it keeps you from craving other drugs. Most drug addicts will tell you that when you're on drugs the first thing that goes through your mind in the morning is where am I going to get my fix, and it's the last thing that goes through your mind at night. Methadone stops that.

"I'm not going to change a lot of people's minds, I know that. What I would like is for you to ask questions. We do have a speaker, he's on his way. So, while he is on his way, I would like for you to ask questions about the clinic I am wanting to have here."

A state employee monitoring the meeting said, "We would like to open the floor to comments, to questions, to anyone who would want to speak in opposition."

"We have a speaker we would like to start out with," attorney Kelly Williams said.

The speaker, Doctor Jim Cunningham, said, "I am very concerned about having a clinic like this in Overton County. The problems with iv heroin is that there is such tremendous crime, violent crime, and disease spread through the use of iv needles, AIDS, hepatitis, and what not.

"In Tennessee there are five or maybe six clinics, all of which are in large cities, such as Chattanooga, Memphis, Knoxville. Less than seven percent of the methadone maintenance enrollees in Tennessee are iv heroin users. The focus of the whole program is kind of subverted in a rural state like Tennessee. We just don't have iv heroin users.

"In this county, in my formal talk to every single doctor in this community, there's not one iv heroin user that we know of in this county. The best indication for a person to be enrolled in this kind of a program is not present at all in this county. It is unprecedented in the United States for a methadone maintenance clinic to be in a rural county with a population of less than 50,000, much less 20,000.

"One other thing, these things are a significant profit center. This drug costs about between 11 and 20 cents per day and is usually retailed at these programs at between 10 and 12 dollars. Half the patients or more relapse with other drugs during their course with methadone maintenance, and up to half of them will be involved in illegal activities, such as selling or diverting their methadone to obtain money for other drugs.

"I have a signed affidavit from every doctor who is practicing in this county that has came out against this treatment program and I have it here tonight if anybody would like to see a copy.

The FDA is about to approve a new drug to treat opioid dependency in a doctor's office. This new drug will reportedly be in use before the end of the year. An opioid is a drug derived from opium or synthetic opium.

Heroin is derived from opium. Many prescribed pain medications are derived from synthetic opium. Methadone is used to treat opioid dependency, but can't be dispensed by a regularly licensed doctor.

"A patient can't come to me or to Dr. Mason or Dr. Cox," Dr. Cunningham said, "and get on methadone. We're not allowed to prescribe it. Your DEA license doesn't allow you to prescribe it. It's a specially licensed deal.

"The FDA is going to approve a new drug for the treatment of opioid dependency, a drug similar to methadone, which would be treated in the office on a one-to-one situation, which in a small low-density rural county like this one would be far better than a mill bringing people in from out of the county.

"These clinics have a definite use, but they are to get people off of bad iv drugs, and getting people hooked on oral medication and lesser things, to switch them over to a different kind of narcotic for maintenance, not treatment, kind of subverts the initial purpose of these drugs."

Responding to Dr. Cunning-ham's remarks, Ms. Copeland said, "We will have everything it takes to be a treatment center. We will have counselors. We will have nurses. We will have physicians. We will have everything it takes to be a treatment center, under the state and federal regulations.

"When we started this, I had the signatures of 50 iv drug users in this county. Now we have 386. We can't give you that list because it's confidential."

The next speaker said, "My name is Trueman Smith. I'm a family physician in Livingston. I would like to state my complete opposition to the establishment of a methadone clinic in Livingston.

"Methadone is an effective drug for badly addicted iv drug users. There's no doubt about that, and I don't care if it's dilaudid or Tylox or heroin or whatever. If you spend the day curled up in the corner with a needle stuck in your arm, you're not a healthy citizen. You can't do things that are going to bring quality to your life.

Methadone for those individuals does improve the quality of their life. They are able to get up. Some are able to get jobs. Some are able to be productive citizens. So you can't sit here tonight and say there is no use for a methadone clinic.

"In effect, methadone has a place. If we had a huge heroin problem or a huge iv drug problem in Overton County, I would be the first one in line interested in establishing a clinic here. But I think you can talk to some of the people in law enforcement, Chief Phillips and other individuals in law enforcement I've spoken to and we just don't have a huge problem here.

"Is there a drug problem in Overton County? Yes. Is there a drug problem in every county in this country? Yes. But is there a drug problem in this county that can be effectively or needs to be effectively managed with methadone maintenance? No, I don't believe there is."

A member of the audience said, "Everybody has a choice of what they put in their bodies, and everybody has a responsibility to themselves. No one makes you take it. No one tells you to take it. No one holds a gun to your head and tells you to take it. How many people do we have in Overton County?"

"About 20,000," someone replied. "And how many iv users did you say we had? the person in the audience asked.

"We have 386," Copeland replied. The person in the audience said, "386 out of 20,000. I say we take the majority of the people who aren't doing it and invest in things that are profitable, that are healthy for them. I think we need a Y for our teenagers. I think we need somewhere for them to go and enjoy themselves. I think we need to get them into activities that don't include drugs. I think we should support the people who aren't doing drugs instead of those who are."

The next speaker said, "I'm Roger Phillips, Chief of Police. I'm been in law enforcement here for about 19 years. I've prayed and cried with parents of children addicted to one drug or the other. My own family hasn't been immune from the ravages of drugs. But heroin is one drug I've not seen on the streets of Livingston or Overton County.

"By all the numbers I've seen, there is a 40 to 60 percent relapse rate those first 90 days. If that's true and we have some 386, and I will take issue with that number, then we're going to bring some from Kentucky, then we're going to bring some from all the areas around this Middle Tennessee area.

"If 50 percent is the relapse rate and the drug that methadone is primarily used to treat is heroin, then at some point you're going to have heroin addicts in Livingston. If there's just 100 from other places who are heroin addicts, that means that roughly you're going to have 50 on the streets. Then you will automatically have a market for heroin. Where you have the market, you'll have the dealers."

"I realize," Copeland said, "that the group feels like we're going to be bringing them in by the numbers. The clinic will only hold so many patients and I projected 200."

"Geraldine," Chief Phillips replied, "you said a while ago, and you and I have been friends a long time, that you weren't in this to lose money. If 200 people will come and there are more, you will expand your borders. That's a fact."

"No," replied Copeland. "I'll move to a different place."

"Go back to the old movie adage," Chief Phillips said. "Build the field and they will come."

A member of the audience who identified himself as a methadone user said, "You said that it's going to bring more crime and drugs in this town. You know, there are drugs coming into this town anyway. Oxy-codone has come in here, you know, stuff like that. You think heroin and all this stuff ain't going to be here pretty soon anyway? If they bring it in here, it's going to come anyway, whether they bring it or not. Why are you so worried about that?

"I mean, I'm just going to tell you the facts about methadone. I've been on drugs for several years now. I started going and it's really helped me. It really has. I mean it helped me and my family. Me and my dad mostly. Three or four of my cousins have started going and they are doing alright. "I really think that it will help these younger people who are on drugs. If it helps five people out of a hundred, that beats none, you know. I just don't know why you all are against it."

Referring to the scheduled speaker, who arrived late, Ms. Copeland said, "I want you to understand, he's not for or against the clinic. He's here to tell you about methadone."

"Could you identify yourself and your organization," someone in the audience said.

"My name's Malcolm Dixon," the speaker replied. "I'm a director of Advocates for Recovery through Medicine. I'm not for or against the clinic here. I just came to explain the medical aspects.

"Methadone does not make people high. Methadone patients are a cross-section of society just like the people in this room. I don't believe in the whole methadone clinic system. I think they should go to physicians. But there's money to be made in the methadone clinic system, due to the numbers.

"For your information, the only methadone clinic in Nashville is owned by a very close relative of a state legislater and no other clinic can be put in there. It charges $90 a week and the net, at the very least, is $50,000 a week."

Referring to a person who had identified himself as a methadone user, a doctor in the audience said, "He thinks he's going to stop methadone. If he stops using methadone, he's going to withdraw."

"He's going to be crawling on the floor like a worm," the speaker replied. "That's right."

Sheriff Kelly Hull said, "I've talked to law enforcement from Knoxville. I've talked with them in Chattanooga. They say anytime a methadone clinic opens up you'll have people coming from other counties. They'll break into people's houses. I've done research with them and that's the report I'm getting back. We have enough breaking and enterings. We definitely don't need any more."

Deputy Craig Story said, "I'd like to do one thing. Would the people who are against this clinic raise their hands. At least two-thirds of those in attendance raised their hands.

"We don't want it in our backyards," Deputy Story continued, "and we're going to fight it every step of the way."

Referring to the proposed placement of the methadone clinic close to Livingston Academy, Assistant District Attorney Owen Burnett said, "I think it's simply unfair to any students who don't have drug or alcohol problems."

An audience member who identified herself as a methadone user said, "Is it not true that the kids who try alcohol and marijuana end up doing worser drugs?"

"I don't see how that rationalizes or justifies putting the methadone clinic across from the high school," Burnett replied.

Copeland said the clinic would handle only 200 methadone users.

Burnett replied, "200 is 200 too many."

The last audience member to speak said, "I'm John Turnbull. I'm circuit judge of this district. For the last 35 years, I've practiced law or have been a judge in Overton County. Despite the best efforts of fine law enforcement and a fine distinct attorney, and I've seen you work day and night to try and stop the drug problem, we know the methods we have used to stop drugs don't work. We know the way to stop drug problems is not by incarceration, but by treatment. I'm not sure about this particular application. But I have great confidence in Geraldine Copeland. She's a quality person.

"It seems to me that what we must not do is address this problem with emotion, with anger. We need to address this problem with love and common sense. I have seen some lives that were absolutely lost that have been saved through methadone treatment.

"We have tried to help people every way we can think of in this world. One thing we know that doesn't work is throwing them in the penitentiary, it doesn't work. I put people in jail every day. I have no choice. When they get out, if they haven't had treatment, they go right back on it.

"I just ask you to deal with this question with logic and reason, not with anger, not with emotion. Think about this problem and how we can help solve it. Everyone here is interested in solving the drug problem in this county. We need to explore every avenue possible to try to solve this drug problem."

The applicant for a certificate of need for a methadone clinic will present the case to the Tennessee Health Facilities Commission at a meeting scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, March 28 at the Bell-South Towers on Commerce in downtown Nashville. Public comment will be allowed during the meeting. Call 615-741-2364 for more information.

To send written statements to the Tennessee Health Facilities Commission, Assistant Executive Director Melanie Hill said to prepare a statement and make 22 copies, then send the original and the 22 copies to the Tennessee Health Facilities Commission, 500 James Robertson Parkway, Suite 760, Nashville, TN 37219 by noon Thursday, March 15 for inclusion in a packet to be sent to each of the 13 members of the commission. Statements may be sent after that time, but the commission members may not have as much time to consider them, according to Hill.

Livingston Police Chief Roger Phillips said all petitions concerning the methadone clinic, for or against, may be turned in at the Livingston Police Department or at Livingston City Hall on or before 4 p.m. Wednesday, March 14.

"The Police Department will make sure the documents are hand-delivered before the deadline," Chief Phillips said.

 

top of page

School Calendar Changed, Linder Resignation Accepted

By Dewain E. Peek

The Overton County Board of Education held its regular monthly meeting Thursday, March 8.

In new business, the Board approved the calendar committee's recommendation that March 16 and 19 be changed to school days to make up for the two days missed because of widespread illness.

The Board accepted Eddie Linder's resignation as the coach of the Livingston Academy Lady Wildcats girls basketball team.

The letter of resignation read, "I would like to say thanks for the opportunity to have served as the head coach for the girls basketball team at Livingston Academy for the last four years.

"Due to other interests, I have decided to step down as the head coach of the Livingston Academy girls basketball team.

"I would like to wish the program the best of luck in the future, and I will continue to be one of their biggest supporters and fans. Also, whoever is hired as the next coach, I will try my best to be helpful and cooperative and to make the transition as smooth and positive as I possibly can.

"Again, it has been a privilege to hold the head coaching position for the Livingston Academy girls basketball team. Thanks for the great opportunity you gave me."

Board Chairman Milton Raines said, "I would like to thank Mr. Linder for a job well done, and I wish him the best of luck in the future, wherever that takes him in our system."

Board Member Larry Looper said of Linder, who took over the position after Looper's retirement as the Livingston Academy girls basketball coach, "He did a good job and I really hate to see him go."

Director of Schools Bill Needham's recommendation for staff organization was approved as follows: Attendance Supervisor - 12 months; Nutrition Supervisor - 12 months; Transportation Supervisor - 11-1/2 months; Special Education Supervisor - 12 months; Vocational/Maintenance Supervisor - 12 months; K-6 Supervisor of Instruction/Technology - 12 months; 7-12 Supervisor of Instruction/Federal Projects - 12 months; and CLUE Lead Teacher, according to contract - 10 months.

Authorization was given to the director of schools and the school board chairman to sign a lease agreement with Overton County for use of a portion of Joe L. Evins Community Center.

Director Needham said, "We'll have a cost of, I believe, of one dollar a year. The utilities, of course we'll do our share there, I believe we'll agree to pay like 35 percent of the utilities, which I feel like is a very fair percentage amount."

The county will take care of the upkeep. "Anything that has a cost in excess of $300 will be their responsibility. Routine maintenance on the part we use, the cleaning and the care of that, will be ours to do.

"I feel that it is a very fair arrangement for both parties."

Chairman Raines said, "I'd like to thank the county commissioners for letting us use it, because we really need it badly."

The Board approved the second reading of the policy on the use of cellular phones.

Maternity leave was approved for Melissa Masters from March 5 to May 24, Marlene Harris from February 20 to March 19, and Allison Harris from February 26 to April 6.

Medical leave was approved for Mala Terry from April 5 to the end of the school year.

The Allons Elementary eighth grade class was approved to take a class trip to the NASA Space Center in Huntsville, AL, May 17-18.

Honor roll students at Allons Elementary were approved to take an educational field trip to Mammoth Cave, KY, on May 11.

A request from Gary Ledbetter to take approximately 100 seniors to Disney World in Florida was approved. Students will leave Saturday, April 21 and arrive back in Livingston on Thursday, April 26.

The Livingston Academy Science Club's annual trip was approved. They will travel to Dauphin Island near Mobile, AL, on May 9-12.

The Pride Team was given approval to attend a meeting in Louisville, KY, March 28-31.

The Livingston Interact Club was given approval to take a trip to Gatlinburg on March 9-11.

The school calendar was approved for the 2001-2002 school year.

The Board approved the Basal reading McGraw-Hill series K-5 as recommended by the textbook committee.

Janet Miller's resignation as an educational assistant at Wilson Elementary School was accepted.

A resolution was adopted certifying the director of schools as the Board's authorized officer for all transactions under the terms and conditions of the Board's Deferred Compensation Plan.

In executive action, the Board approved the low bid for kitchen equipment as follows: 1) countertop convection steamer unit at $4,845 from Texas Food Service Equipment; 2) pass-through refrigerator at $5,322 from Scruggs Incorporated; 3) pass-through heated cabinet at $4,440 from Scruggs Incorporated.

The low bid was approved for construction and installation of custom work modules from Johnson Construction for $9,450. The work modules are for a vocational class at Livingston Academy.

School Director Needham issued the Director's Report to the School Board. Actions taken by Director Needham are as follows:

Pamela Dixon was hired as a substitute teacher.

Jennifer Sims was hired as an interim teacher in kindergarten at A.H. Roberts effective March 6 through the end of the current school year.

Principals were hired for the 2001-2002 school year as follows: A.H. Roberts Elementary - Teresa Johnson; Allons Elementary - Dolphus Dial; Hilham Elementary - Shirley Myers; Livingston Academy - Gary Ledbetter; Livingston Middle School - Melinda Beaty; Rickman Elementary - Rusty Linder; Wilson Elementary - Alice Reed; and REACH Academy - Matt Smith.

Lori Meadows was hired as a classroom teacher at Allons Elementary to replace Deanna Savage who is on maternity leave.

Donna Elder was hired for eight hours per day as a temporary secretary at A.H. Roberts for the remainder of the school year to replace Heather Melton who is on maternity leave.

Lisa Gore was hired for seven hours per day as a temporary Title I educational assistant at A.H. Roberts for the remainder of the school year.

The meeting adjourned.

 

top of page

Lillydale Campground Closed For 2001

By Dewain E. Peek

Extensive damage to the Lillydale pine forest from southern pine beetle damage, along with the resulting environmental and public safety concerns, has forced the Lillydale Campground to be closed for the 2001 recreation season.

The closing will allow time for the Corps of Engineers to remove dead timber, clean up debris, make necessary repairs to damaged facilities, and allow the area time for environmental healing.

The Corps was not able to foresee a natural disaster of this magnitude that would dictate park closure. The Corps of Engineers expressed regrets that such measures must be taken and recommends Willow Grove, Obey River or Dale Hollow Dam Campgrounds as alternative camping destinations.

The Day Use area at Lillydale, featuring launch ramp, swim beach, and picnic facilities, will not be affected by this action.

Lillydale Campground will reopen April 15, 2002. Willow Grove Campground, a short distance from Lillydale, will open as scheduled May 15, 2001.

This campground closure will also allow for hardwood and soil restoration to occur, allowing the park to return to a mix of native tree species similar to what existed when the lake was formed.

Customers with existing Lillydale reservations with Reserve America www.reserve-usa.com (NRRS) will be contacted and provided assistance for transfer or refund of their initial reservation. The Corps of Engineers has authorized Reserve America to not charge customers service fees for either refunds or transfers when adjustments are made by the Reserve America Call Center. For reservation assistance, customers with existing reservations may call NRRS Customer Service at 1-888-448-1474.

For more information about the widespread problem of southern pine beetle infestation throughout the Nashville District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the strategic website www.lrn.usace.army.mil/pao/background/acctproj/PineBeetle.htm on the topic. Visit Dale Hollow Lake www.lrn.usace.army.mil/op/DAL/rec/ for general information about the many opportunities offered at the Corps Lake ranked eighth in the nation by those seeking recreation.

 

 

 

 

Overton County News
415 West Main Street
P.O. Box 479
Livingston, Tennessee 38570
tel 931.823.6485
fax 931.823.6486
ocnews@usit.net


   
Printing Supplies Graphic Design Custom Printing Advertising