Police: Fentanyl creeping into Middlesboro

Published 4:15 pm Monday, July 3, 2023



At the June 27 Middlesboro Council meeting, new Police Chief Petie Gilbert reported the first case of fentanyl found in the city.

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Gilbert reported that Officer Ryan Collins seized more than an ounce. A Schedule II drug, fentanyl has been blamed for many overdoses and subsequent deaths, meaning it has medically acceptable uses, but with high potential for abuse and/or addiction. Gilbert said a large amount of fentanyl was confiscated at Harlan Hospital and three of six cases in Tazewell resulted in death.

Gilbert says all of his officers are Narcan trained, an emergency medicine that can reverse the effects of an overdose.

Gilbert also reported Officer Morgan Justice seized 100 prescription drugs and $450 in cash from a shoplifter suspected to be involved in drug trafficking.

According to Gilbert, the police department is receiving more calls for assistance than last month.

“Our calls have increased from this month to last month, but our calls are going to increase over the summer as they have for the past 30 years,” said Gilbert.

Gilbert also reported that officer Bucky Harris obtained his Field Training Officer Certification. He explained that a field training officer is a certificate that allows officers to be able to train new recruits.

Kevin Barnett with the Middlesboro Street Department that this week their main concern was cleaning up Middlesboro for their events on July 4 and weekly on Thursdays throughout the summer.

Barnett reported that the firework tubes were set up, but there was still some on-location clean up that had to be done for the Fourth of July festivities at the shooting location.

On Thursday, the city celebrated John Shoffner at the Levitt AMP Middlesboro Music Series between the opening act, Lazarus Lake, and headliner, The Royal Hounds, in which Shoffner received the first-ever key to the City of Middlesboro.

In May, Shoffner served as pilot on Axiom Space Ax-2 mission to the International Space Station. Throughout the duration of his mission, he hosted live events with schools around the world, including an interactive conversation from the ISS with Middlesboro students. While in orbit, Shoffner captured educational videos to excite the next generation of space enthusiasts, facilitated an International art and poetry contest that garnered more than 930 entries from 26 countries, and participated in space suit testing in partnership with MIT that will shape the future of space exploration.

“John has not only gone off to accomplish an astonishing list of feats, but he will always be remembered as someone who gave back to the community that helped to mold him into the man that he is today,” said Mayor Boone Bowling. “John has not only remembered his roots – he has come back home to water those roots to see others flourish. That is something not just me, but the whole town is thankful for. There couldn’t be someone more deserving of the first key to the city than Mr. John Shoffner.”

A public meet and greet with Shoffner took place on the corner of the Apex Medical Building immediately following the headlining act.

In other business, the council also:

• Approved city bills

• Tabled the first reading of the monthly regular called meeting for the third Tuesday at 6 p.m.

• Approved second reading of 2023 budget amendment ordinance for fiscal year 2022-2023

• Approved second reading of the 2024 budget ordinance for fiscal year 2023-2024

• Approved bid documents for playground assembly for Old Lincoln High School Park. Bids are due July 11, 2023 at 5 p.m.