Upshur County Commission discussed legal counsel's opinion on harm reduction program

BUCKHANNON, W. Va. (WDTV) - After weeks of concerns from many residents in Upshur County regarding the syringe access program. On Thursday, they got some answers.

Back on June 28, a crowd of concerned citizens filled the court house annex asking commission members about their role with the Upshur-Buckhannon Health Department.

"These needles might show up in our playgrounds," said one resident to the Upshur County Commission on that meeting.

"We had some concerned citizens thought that we were in control of the health department as far as telling them what they could do or couldn't do," said Sam Nolte, commission president.

This, after the Upshur-Buckhannon Health Department partnered with Milan Puskar Health Right, to provide a free harm reduction program.

County Commission promised that they will look more in depth on their role. And that's what they did.

"We thought that we were not and we did the legal thing to make sure and the health department runs themselves," said Nolte.

However, county commission does provide space to the health department and appoints three of the five members to the health board. The other two are appointed by the city of Buckhannon.

5 News spoke to representatives at the health department when this previous meeting took place. They said they don't encourage drug use but rather protect people from harmful diseases.

But some residents stress that this program should be stopped or have the health department look for other options.

"Some of the concerns were that they just wanted to make sure it was a needle for needle type of exchange," he said.

Some citizens will be addressing their concerns to the health board on Thursday night. Stick with 5 News for the latest.