Methadone Clinic Discussed At Public Hearing
School Calendar Changed, Linder Resignation
Lillydale Campground Closed For 2001
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
"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
"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 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
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.Ó
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
"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?Ó the person in the audience
"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
"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
"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
"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
Deputy Craig Story said, "I'd like to do one
thing. Would the people who are against this clinic raise their
hands.Ó At least two-thirds of those in attendance raised their
"We don't want it in our backyards," Deputy
Story continued, "and we're going to fight it every step of
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,"
Copeland said the clinic would handle only 200 methadone
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
"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.
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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
"Due to other interests, I have decided to step
down as the head coach of the Livingston Academy girls basketball
"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
Chairman Raines said, "I'd like to thank the
county commissioners for letting us use it, because we really need
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,
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,
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
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
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.
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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
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,
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.Ê For reservation assistance,
customers with existing reservations may call NRRS Customer Service
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.Ê 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