UPDATE: Harrison County Board of Health votes to end needle exchange program

By  | 

HARRISON COUNTY, W. Va. (WDTV) - UPDATE 09/18/19 @ 11 a.m.
The Harrison County Board of Health voted to end the needle exchange program in a special meeting Tuesday night.

The Harrison County Board of Health says that five board members were at the meeting.

A vote of 4-1 decided to end the program effective immediately, according to the Harrison County Board of Health.

According to the Harrison County Board of Health, Clarksburg City Clerk Annette Wright was the only member that voted to keep the program.

UPDATE 09/05/19 7:45 p.m.
On Thursday, Clarksburg city council held a meeting and voted on the ordinance to regulate and restrict the sale, marketing and distribution of needles and syringes for the Harm reduction program.

"There's always going to be a problem here we could move it to wherever we want to .. we have a problem right here in our city.."

People in the community say that the city is moving forward with the restrictions and say there's other ways the community can help the people involved with the program.

"The needle exchange has been a problem for our city since they acted it, its attracted more of the homeless," said Jeff Thompson. "I want them to have help but sitting here handing out free needles to allow people to continue using drugs is not an option."

Council stated during the meeting that the decision was not an easy one and that it's "time to make Clarksburg safe again."

The restrictions and regulations also include that the needle exchange program will be moved out of Clarksburg's central business district in an effort to try to protect the community and local businesses from the negative impact of the program.

ORIGINAL STORY

The needle exchange program has been a subject of controversy for years and now the city is discussing the possibility of moving it out of downtown Clarksburg.

"It is the view of the council that the needle exchange program has been having a negative impact on our downtown area, our downtown businesses and our citizens in general," said Mayor Ryan Kennedy

Currently, Clarksburg city council is working on an ordinance they say will help reform the local health department's needle exchange program.

Mayor Kennedy says the need for reform has to do with protecting downtown businesses.

"With the amount of thefts that increase every thursday afternoon when the needle exchange program I going on it has driven some of our businesses out of town,"

Leah Michael, who just opened up her own business "Momma Leah's Goods"in downtown, says people questioned her choice to open up in the area.

"I had several people ask me why are you starting a business in clarksburg because of the stigma with clarksburg right now," Michael said

Michael says she isn't worried about the program or those using it impacting her business.

"People that go into the needle exchange program and need to do that for whatever their life circumstance might be, they're just people to and they're not effecting me personally,"

Next, the city is discussing with the department a plan to move to a less central location.

"The health department said that they are open to moving it, but they need some help finding a location," Mayor Kennedy said "So I think the city is willing to partner with them to help find some locations,"

While no definitive plans have been made yet, Mayor Kennedy says they'll make sure it’s easily accessible.

"We have to find a place where people would still be able to access it and get the service they need," Mayor Kennedy "But at the same time it would minimize the negative impact to the surrounding area,"

Council will vote on the second reading of that amendment next week.