Madon wants clear plan on needle exchange program

Published 11:28 am Friday, January 17, 2020

One of the hottest topics in the community right now is the discussion of the needle exchange program.

Recently, Pineville Mayor Scott Madon discussed his stance on the issue.

“I’ve been picking up a little bit from Mayor Nelson or picking up a little bit from Judge Brock but no one has personally contacted me from the health department or the council to discuss what the plans are,” said Madon.

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The mayor said he did attend the meeting that they recently had with the University of Kentucky and some other people in the Bell Theater.

“They had a little bit of data that shed a new light for me that I didn’t know,” he said. “It was positive, but I think as I talk to the other elected officials we would just like to know what the plan is.”

Madon explained that he can’t support a plan or be against a plan when he doesn’t know exactly what the plan is.

“The elected officials are getting beat up pretty bad right now,” he said. “I don’t think it’s fair for us to be labeled that we are against it because we are asking questions. I mean I think it’s fair, and I think it’s our duty to ask questions. I mean if it’s any other issue that’s what we do. So, when they get a plan I will certainly be willing to sit down and discuss it.”

He said his personal feelings is that he can be for it being in a controlled environment with people that work in the health field that know what they are doing.

“When I say that I am talking like a health department or hospital worker,” he further explained. “I personally cannot endorse or support a van being driven out in our communities giving out needled.”

The reason Madon said he feels that way is because he wouldn’t want them doing that in his neighborhood.

“I’m just not going to do that,” he said. “Now, I have heard some talk about getting the churches and clergy people involved and having one or two of them sponsor it and maybe have a controlled environment where it’s people coming in there. I could support that if people like that were involved, but just to take a van and park it down on Third Street and Wallsend or go over here to the ball park and park up, I personally would not like that if it was in my neighborhood.”

Madon explained that there is no doubt that it is needed and some say they want to do it at the health department in Middlesboro, but they don’t want to do it at Pineville and they want to take a bus out.

“After what I’ve seen, it is probably needed,” he continued. “The one thing that I voiced and what I’ve been hit with and what everyone has been hit with is, if we are going to furnish them for the addicts why not furnish them for the people with diabetes. But, I understand this program does not address that.

“I guess at this point, until we really know what their plan is, my question is that this thing was passed over a year ago why now have we got our foot on the gas trying to go 100 miles an hour,” he stated. “I know personally why, is the grant money has come down and it’s got everyone going. But, where have we been for the past year?”

He said now that they are getting some money, all the elected officials are the bad guys all of the sudden because they just won’t open their doors and say do whatever they want to do.

“If this is so important, why weren’t we trying to sell this in and get this set up,” he questioned. “I haven’t talked to any of the elected officials that know what the plan is.”

He thinks that it would be great if all the elected officials from Pineville, Middlesboro and the county could get in the same room and talk about it with the health department instead of having all the “he said, she said” and having fingers pointed at who is for it or against it.

“I do want to go on the record and say this,” Madon began. “I said this earlier, that I will support and do whatever our community wants to do. I personally have asked almost 15 people about this issue in my police department, on my council and people on the street and one of the 15 are supportive of it. The other 14, not only do they say no but they say ‘hell no.’”

He explained that if the people behind the needle exchange program want to know why the elected officials are pushing back, that it’s not so much that they are against it but their constituents are telling them no they don’t want to do it.

“So who are we obligated to, you know,” he asked. “When I sat in that meeting the other day, I looked around and probably saw three or four people from Pineville and only one of those were for it.”

Madon explained that they are still very open minded and would like to sit down and talk about it and understand the risk of it but there needs to be a plan developed.

“I don’t want to hear this stuff that they can’t develop a plan until we pass it. That’s not going to work,” he stated. “We are not going to say yeah go ahead. We need to know the plan. That’s not just with the needle exchange program, that would be with any program.”

He stated that he thinks the best answer is to get everybody that they possibly can from both councils, mayors, and judges in the same room with the health department and talk without an audience and people screaming and hollering who are involved and who have personal issues with the elected officials.

“We don’t need that,” he said. “We need the facts and we need to sit down and take a serious look at this.”

When it comes to the program, there are concerns that someone will come into town and if they get a needle and they go into the parking lot and shoot up that they will kill someone on their way home.

“That could happen anywhere,” he said. “I mean that could happen coming into town, but those are things that we have to look at. There is more than just approving the needle exchange, there are risks involved.”

Madon said one thing he didn’t know is that when people go to the program and they want help then the program tries to get them into a facility.

“I see that as a plus,” he said. “There are some good things about it and that’s why I don’t want to cast any doubt that we’ve made up our minds and that we are against it.”