By Lyra Bordelon
The Rainelle Town Council began planning a new drug-related ordinance and more during the Monday, April 26, meeting of Town Council.
Acting Mayor Bill Bell opened the meeting with a special request on behalf of one member of council who was not present.
“I want to have a special request that we lift up our friend and councilmember Danny Milam in your prayers and thoughts in the upcoming days and for his speedy recovery. I miss him bad, I really do.”
Although nothing was formally passed, Town Council and Bell are working towards a new policy for dealing with drug-related possessions.
“I would like to work on an ordinance … that we have a zero tolerance, no drug paraphernalia in our community,” said Bell. “What that does [is] give our officers a little leeway whenever they’re searching a vehicle. If you’re caught with it, it’s illegal, it’s a finable offense, if not an arrestable offense. It’ll be a way of heading off future problems in our community.”
Bell also noted the ordinance could affect harm reduction clinics.
“Other communities have it – this will do some things even beyond that,” Bell said. “You will not be allowed to have any drug paraphernalia. That means if you go to distribute anything out there, even as far as the needle exchange, you have drug paraphernalia and you’re not allowed to have it in this community.”
Last year, controversy in Rainelle brought those involved with harm reduction programs, also called needle exchanges, to the Town Council meeting, with Seneca QRT program coordinator Rick Martin explaining the programs allow them to acquire clean needles in order to massively reduce the spread of HIV and hepatitis. The clinics also provide access to birth control, Narcan- a drug used to stop opioid overdoses, and fentanyl testing strips. Martin also explained the repeated contact at these clinics has gotten a number of addicts to come for treatment.
Several councilmembers, including Martha Hylton, voiced support for the potential ordinance. However, nothing was passed this meeting other than giving Bell authority to work on it for future consideration.
In other business:
– The West Virginia Communities Risk Pool (WVCoRP) approached the council, asking them to consider enrolling in the insurance program. No decision was made, with the council agreeing to do more research on the possibility.
– Jim Kelly was approved to once again serve on the Rainelle Library Board.
– Volunteers are needed for the Rainelle Make It Shine event, planned for the last two weeks of May.