- Politics and Social Issues
Cleaning Up The Streets Of Moneyton
The Pill Mills
By 2010, The Streets of Moneyton were paved with Oxycontin. Pill mills were thriving in Eastern Kentucky and Southern Ohio are were popping pills across the border of West Virginia and from Huntington all down to Beckley.
Customers, many in legitimate pain, would travel hundreds of miles to pain clinics where, for cash payment of approximately $200 per office visit and with little or no physical examination, clinic customers would receive excessive amounts of “cocktails” of controlled substances including diazepam, hydrocodone, oxycodone and alprazalam.
Often all a customer would need to be considered a patient and be treated was a MRI and a complaint of pain. They would receive as much as 200 30mg oxycodone. Often, the patients thought they really needed it. Many had been in car accidents or injured their backs at work. Of course, many were opportunist thinking why not get the pills if they will give them to me?
While many were addicts simply looking to get high, many 'respectable' citizens became addicts. They had pains and the pills eased the pains. Because they were licensed doctors involved and Wal-Mart and Rite-Aid were filling the prescriptions at first, the patients did not totally see what they were doing. Even if they had the worst of backaches, taking the strong painkillers being dished out by the clinics was like fishing for catfish with dynamite. Sure, the pills killed the pain but the idea of using pills designed to ease the pain of cancer patients to cure a backache was extreme overkill.
While some of the customers got the pills to get high or sell, some simply thought they were treating their injuries. These people became addicts without even realizing it. The problem began to spread and people all over West Virginia were becoming addicts by visiting legal doctors not the corner pill pusher. But, by not conducting proper examinations, the clinics were, in fact, breaking the law.
Soon, "The Oxycontin Pipeline" had spread to Florida where clinics were operating on practically every corner. What made Florida more dangerous is they were giving out even more pills and they were not hooked up to other states to see if patients were "doctor shopping."
According to wikipedia, doctor shopping refers to the practice of a patient requesting care from multiple physicians, often simultaneously, without making efforts to coordinate care or informing the physicians of the multiple caregivers. This usually stems from a patient's addiction to, or reliance on, certain prescription drugs or other medical treatment. Usually a patient will be treated by their regular physician and be prescribed a drug that is necessary for the legitimate treatment of their current medical condition. Some patients will then actively seek out other physicians to obtain more of the same medication, often by faking or exaggerating the extent of their true condition, in order to feed their addiction to that drug."
Patients were getting pills from Ohio and Kentucky and often taking more than they were supposed to, then, they were visiting the clinics in Florida to get more. The extreme availability of drugs meant that pills were everywhere. But, of course, the more that these patients
took, they more they wanted as these painkillers were extremely addictive. Of course, the supply and demand of these drugs presented many business opportunities.
In Huntington, opportunists started filling their prescriptions and selling the drugs. Pill houses sprung up in neighbors around Huntington and other communities. Previously, much of the drug traffic in Huntington had been confined to The Fairfield District around Hal Greer Boulevard where crack cocaine made Fairfield The drug Capital of Moneyton. Now, the painkiller problem was taking the urban drug problem and making it rural. Again, the patients were people from all walks of life. The users were all ages and all social classes.
It was not enough for the drug dealers to just sell the drugs they got from clinics but they started 'sponsoring' other patients. They would take
them to the doctor and pay for the visit (these pill mills did not take insurance) and would pay for the gas and pills. They would give the addicts, many who could not afford the doctor's visit, a portion of the pills. The dealers would then sell the rest. A normal visit to an Ohio Clinic would net about 150 oxies and other pills such as Xanex. The visit would cost $200 and the prescription would cost another $100 but each painkiller would go for $30 on the street. The dealer could well afford to let the person he sponsored have about 50 of his own pills and still make a major profit.
As the dealers began to make money, they spread their business by sponsoring trips to Florida. They would take carloads of people down to Florida and pay for everything including hotels and meals and make even more money. Being a drug dealer was becoming big money. Now, drug dealers from Detroit were buying pills cheap in Detroit where there wasn't much demand and bringing them over from Canada where they were even cheaper and making big money. But, at this time, Detroit drug dealers were not the primary players in Moneyton. Average Joe was making big money playing drug kingpin. Even the elderly were taking advantage of the demand and were selling their prescriptions.
The problem was becoming worse and worse. People began dying. Others, were so addicted they could no longer afford the $30 pills and began robbing businesses and breaking into houses. The problem was out of hand but the media and local governments did not want to build the problem up. Many local politicians were running for re-election so they decided it was best to ignore the problem so it did not look it was their
fault. Mayor Kim Wolfe of Huntington would not admit there was a problem and in fact, in his campaign for re-election in 2012 , he bragged about how crime was down in Huntington.
So at this time, the problem was Huntington's dirty little secret. Most of these pills were bought with a prescription and from a pharmacy so many did not see them as illegal. But, of course, they were because they were given to people who did not need them and given without proper examination.
As people began to overdose, the families of overdose victims screamed for justice. The State Governments sprung to action by beginning to put pressure on the pill mills. The pill mills still maintained they were legal because they had licenses on the wall. The patients wanted to believe they were legal so they saw the licenses on the wall and that was good enough for them.
But, pharmacies quit filling the prescriptions. Little by little, the scripts were getting harder to fill. Quickly, Huntington pharmacies quit filling them and large pharmacies that were filling them in Columbus were raided and closed. Patients had to take to the road to get their prescriptions from The Ohio pill mills filled. People would travel all over Wet Virginia and spend most of the day to get them filled. Then, next month when they would go back to that drug store they would be told they were no longer filling Southern Ohio scripts and the patient would be back on the road. Many times it would take as many as 20 different stores to get the prescriptions filled.
West Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky did a great job dealing with the problem and eventually closing the pain clinics. In cities like Huntington, though, the problem was not highly publicized and the amount of people that were addicted was kept low profile. Huntington had a drug problem but it was Huntington's dirty little secret at the time.
Florida was the last market to be snuffed out and even Georgia was in play for a while but adter a year or so, the pill mill problem was in control. Many of the clinics eventually faced charges. According to USDOJ: US Attorney's Office - Southern District of Ohio article PAIN CLINIC OWNER SENTENCED TO 14 YEARS IN PRISON AND ORDERED TO FORFEIT $6.3 MILLION IN PROFITS, " The owner of three southern Ohio pain clinics, Tracy Bias, 49, of West Portsmouth, Ohio, was sentenced to spend 168 months in prison, serve another ten years under court supervision, and ordered to forfeit $6,348,000, an amount representing the proceeds of the pain clinics he operated for two years in Portsmouth, Ohio and Columbus, Ohio. Six doctors involved with the clinic have either been sentenced or are awaiting sentencing."
This action was taken almost two years after the clinics had been closed. One that Bias owned, Southern Ohio Complete Pain Management , was a familiar stop to Huntington addicts. Many Huntington addicts and dealers visited the place. In fact, this is the place that deserves most of the blame for the epidemic because they got many people addicted. They rarely turned away patients and their overprescribing to people who trusted them because they were doctors, created hundreds of Huntington addicts and that's not to mention the thousands more that bought the pills from illegal dealers who got them from Bias's clinic.
Even charismatic Dr. Mark R. Fantauzzi who with a big smile on his face assured his patients that he cared for them and that he was helping them and no one understood what kind of pain they were in was arrested. Fantauzzi worked at the clinic for at least a couple of years and many patients thought he was a good doctor who cared about their welfare. They thought that even though he did not conduct proper examinations.
When the pill mills were finally shut down, the supply went down drastically. The demand was way greater than the supply. As a result, the street price of painkillers went up. There was still a big gap between supply and demand.
The painkiller users were not ready to quit and there was not enough painkillers available. Detroit drug dealers had been bringing crack, painkillers, and heroin down from Detroit for sometime. With painkillers becoming hard to find and the price too high, more painkillers switched from "hillbilly heroin" (oxycontin) to the real thing - heroin. More and more drug dealers came down from Detroit to help meet the demand.
Several problems developed with the transition from painkillers to heroin as Huntington's drug of choice. Since heroin involves a needle, Hepatitis and AIDS cases increased.
Heroin is sometimes cut with other drugs like rat poison. Plus, since heroin is not manufactured in a factory like painkillers, heroin is never the same. It can be stronger and an user may not realize the heroin they are using is stronger than they are used to and it makes it easier to overdose. Plus, Detroit drug dealers also bring violence with them. Drug violence began to increase to levels it did when crack was king. Too make things even worse, crack made a strong comeback into Huntington.
While crack was always strong around the black area of The Fairfield District of Huntington, heroin is more often used by whites. Heroin is also not restricted to one economic class, and as a result, heroin is being used all through Huntington. From Ceredo-Kenova to Barboursville, all parts of Huntington and it's suburbs, had an increase in drugs, robberies, breakings and enterings, and drug violence popped up in areas which had any violence before heroin hit town. Drug violence was no longer limited to the black section of town.
The heroin problem hit epidemic proportions and other problems like crime, prostitution, and violence escalated because of it. The drug problem was becoming very noticeable but no one wanted to address it. More drug dealers came down from Detroit to meet the surging demand.
I had been blogging regularly about the drug problem since when the pill mills were at their peak. In 2011, I published my a fictional look at Huntington's real pill problem called "Money Town", in which Detroit drug dealers were the bad guys. It was a violent story and a cautionary tale of what could happen if the problem was not brought under control.
In 2013, I was blogging every week about the drug epidemic and heroin's rise to the drug of choice in Huntington. In January of 2014, I released "The Streets Of Moneyton" my first non-fiction novel. It was a look at the drug epidemic and some ideas of how to fight the problem. The book was put up in blog form online as well and received over 35,000 hits.
On January 14, 2014, I emailed Huntington Mayor Steve Williams and asked him if he was interested in reading my new book on the drug problem. He emailed me back saying, "David: I would certainly enjoy having a chance to read your draft. I don't think it would be appropriate to make a public comment, pro or con, about the book. If I see something that I think factually is inaccurate would you want me to point it out to you?"
I emailed my rough draft to him making him one of the first people to read it and he never answered. The book was eventually published online and received 35,000 hits. People were finally ready to start reading and talking about the drug epidemic.
The Cleanup Begins
The first part of the cleaning of the streets of Moneyton was implementing Mayor Steve's River To Jail program. The River To Jail program began swiftly on Tuesday August 6, 2014. The Huntington Greyhound Bus station announced that all of the buses back to Detroit were sold out for that Tuesday as Mayor Steve and Huntington Police Chief Jim Johnson sent their men across town rounding up offenders.
One dealer could not get on the buses so he attempted to take a cab back to Detroit but he was apprehended. Police Chief Jim Johnson announced 22 arrests in one day as part of a citywide warrant sweep dubbed Operation River to Jail.
The effort involved participation from more than 50 Huntington Police officers, as well as the Huntington Violent Crime Federal Drug Task Force, Ohio Highway Patrol and the West Virginia Air National Guard.
The sweep netted 25 arrests by the end of the day, seven of which were for misdemeanor crimes.
Three suspects were arrested on federal warrants and 16 were arrested on state warrants.
According to The Herald-Dispatch article "Hit The Road". "Jim Johnson said the police will be relentless in arresting drug and violent crime offenders. He said that was a promise he made to city council when they approved $500,000 in additional funding for the police department that made Tuesday's arrests possible. The same funding will help add 10 officers to the department early next year to continue to address the problem through a longterm plan.
"What today was about was street-level drugs," Jim Johnson said. "This was about what has destroyed the neighborhoods, has caused people not to be able to come out and sit on their front porches."
Standing alongside the mayor and police chief, Cabell County Prosecutor Corky Hammers vowed to prosecute those arrested Tuesday to the fullest extent.
"We intend to be tough on prosecutions," he said. "If the drug dealers didn't get the message today when they were arrested, they will get it in the months to come as we hold their feet to the fire through the court system, and we will make sure these drug dealers spend as much time as possible in prison."
Hammers said he has a small team of prosecutors assembled to handle the cases in particular and make sure his office is able to support the city's plan to address drugs and violent crimes."
The River To Jail program continued to clean the streets of Moneyton. Despite the initial success of raids, Mayor Steve knew it was not going to be enough. Williams said, "We are not going to be able to just arrest ourselves out of this."
The Mayor was absolutely correct. The problem had gone on for too long. The demand was not going to go away because many of the addicted had been on drugs since the pill mills started flooding the area with painkillers. As much as they may want or wanted to quit, they just are not able to do it without help.
There is also belief that once you arrest one dealer and get him off the street that two more replace him from Detroit. There is just too much demand and as long as that demand is present there will be someone there to supply the demand.
It was obvious it was going to take more than just filling up the jails and courts.
According to the August 15, 2014 Herald Dispatch article "Mayor Williams Encourages Prayer" by Kristi Murphy, "Mayor Steve Williams says there is no silver bullet. There is no one way to rid Huntington of drug crime and addiction".
But it was the day the initiative was announced, Aug. 5, that Williams decided enforcement, education, treatment and recovery programs just weren't enough. Something else was needed, and that something was prayer.
"I've been so consumed over the prevalence of drug violence, drug crime and also seeing the level of addiction," he said. "We obviously have to educate people not to do [drugs] to begin with, we have to have effective enforcement and we have to have treatment and recovery programs, but I have seen the power of prayer personally in my life."
Williams reached out to a group of religious leaders and asked them to lead their churches in a prayer for those battling addiction, those working in law enforcement, and lastly, those dealing drugs to give them the strength to walk away.
He filmed a video that has since started circulating on social media asking all to join with him in prayer at 11:05 a.m., Sunday, Sept. 7.
"Prayer is so powerful," Williams said. "I can't imagine the power that would be unleashed if every church would take a moment to pray."
The prayer is scheduled in September because that is the National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month."
Mayor Steve's Prayer recorded by Trifecta Productions quickly went viral and was viewed over 500,000 times. He asked the churches to pray for three things:
1. Healing and recovery of those fighting substance abuse,
2. The protection of law enforcement as they protect the community during the drug war, and
3. The drug dealers to be delivered from a life of crime.
Here is a blog that I wrote explaining possible motives and implications behind Mayor Steve's Prayer Request.
Mayor Steve's Prayer Request For Huntington is more than a prayer. It is not simply people praying for God to come down and take the drugs off of the streets. Well, it some ways it is a call to God. But, it is simply more than just a prayer.
To solve the drug epidemic Huntington must comes together. Nothing unites people than prayer. The religious community of Huntington outnumbers the drug addicts. This is a call to arms of sorts for the religious community to get together and take back their community.
There is strength in numbers. If the religious community keeps an eye on their neighborhood and reports crime then it will help the police. The only way to win is to change the culture. For too long we've been living in the gangsta rap culture. The feeling was "snitches get stitches." But, guess what? Mayor Steve's prayer has united us and we realize we are not alone. The gangsters only run the streets of Huntington if we let them. The Prayer Request is a cry of defiance for our neighbors to join hands and run out the dealers. The Prayer Request is empowering the religious community to help change current culture.
Once the supply is gone we can treat the demand. But like Mayor Steve says "We can't just arrest our way out of this." We have to make drugs socially unacceptable and this means changing the culture. This type of strategy worked in Manchester, Ky for the documentary Appalachian Dawn in which the religious community came together and forced out the drug dealers.
Huntington has always been the twelfth man in Marshall football, now the community can get behind the police department and help show the dealers and communities that enough is enough. The Prayer Request effectively brings the citizens of Huntington together to take back our city. The drug dealers will get tired of looking over their shoulders and wonder who is calling the police and leave. Suddenly, instead of 90 year-old Mrs. Martin being terrified of the drug dealers, they will be terrified of her picking up the phone and alerting the police. Snitches no longer get stitches in Huntington, dealers get cuffed
Mayor Steve Leads In Prayer
According to the Charleston Daily Mail's 9/7/14 article "Community joins in prayer for drug abusers" by Charlotte Ferrell Smith:
"It was a full house at Fifth Avenue Baptist Church Sunday when worshipers joined countless other congregations in a prayer to stop substance abuse and the pain it leaves in its wake.
The prayer began at 11:05 a.m. as Huntington Mayor Steve Williams had requested in an email previously sent to a couple of friends and about 10 pastors. The email was attached to a video that has since gone viral with more than 1 million combined hits on the video website Vimeo and YouTube, according to the latest report the mayor received from Trifecta Productions’ Joe Murphy, who recorded the video. "
The article reported: "Two families who had lost loved ones to drugs joined the pastor at the front of the sanctuary to offer portions of the prayer. Then the pastor asked others to come forward so that prayers could be said for their protection, wisdom and strength as they fought the drug war. He asked for those in government and law enforcement as well as all first responders to come to the front. Then he asked anyone who felt led to do so to also come and place hands on each other as a symbol of unity. The front of the sanctuary was quickly filled.
The pastor’s message was thought-provoking and sometimes peppered with humor. He talked about real time such as looking at a watch to see when the sermon would end. However, there is also the time of opportunity, a time to wake up and take action, he said.
While there is nothing magical about 11:05 a.m. Sept. 7, it is important to focus upon the opportunity to show love and make life better for others, he said.
“Most of us have lived life enough to know that life can change immediately,” he said. “Why don’t we live like that, myself included? What if we live as though an opportunity will never present itself again? There is the opportunity just outside of here at work and in our homes and schools to show the love of Jesus Christ. How many people will you tell about the opportunity you had to pray about the drug issue?”
The article displayed how the prayer can help heal: "Following the service, Ann and David Niday, of Huntington, said their only son, Michael, died of a drug overdose on Sept. 8, 2013.
Their son, who wrestled with addiction for 11 years, was outgoing and sometimes progressed in his fight against drugs. Meanwhile, his parents struggled to help until they lost their only son at age 26.
The couple said reaching out to others provides some comfort. It took courage to join in the prayer before the congregation on Sunday but they knew it was the right thing to do.
“We wanted to help other families,” David said.
“We can do that because of our faith,” Ann said. “That is why we can survive this ordeal. Our love of God and our belief in him have been the most important part of this process. Part of the way we honor Michael is to fight the battle against addiction.”
They noted that addiction is the “great equalizer” among people of all backgrounds who struggle with the pain of drug abuse."
The Dog Calls
When Mayor Steve's video went viral he heard from people around the world who called and offered their support and told Mayor Steve they would be praying for Huntington. According to WSAZ Television 3, ""A member of my staff came in and said, 'You won't believe who's on the phone. I said 'who?', they said, 'the Dog ... the Bounty Hunter,' " Steve Williams said.
Dog and his wife, Beth, called the mayor to share their thoughts on his call for churches to pray this Sunday.
"I thought that was great of somebody in politics to be able to ask for divine intervention. I think that's what America is about is freedom of religion in every place," said Duane "Dog" Chapman.
The mayor said the video started with a message to eight people and a letter.
The video has given the city more support in a fight taking place in many similar-sized cities nationwide.
"It's not like all of the sudden in Huntington, everybody woke up -- one out of 20 people woke up doing heroin. It's not the local people that live there that are bringing it in and all that," Chapman said.
"We have found it is resonating with people throughout the region and the country, that prayer has a place in all of this," Mayor Williams said.
Magistrate Drops The Ball
Mayor Steve and the citizens of Huntington soon discovered that cleaning up the streets of Moneyton was not going to be so easy. A couple of events that happened not long after River To Jail went into operation revealed flaws in the system and that the suppliers were not going away fast enough.
Police Chief Jimmy Johnson was at the scene of a River To Rail raid that saw three dealers be arrested. According to the article Suspected Drug Dealer Released on Bond Before Police Leave Scene of Arrest at http://www.huntingtonnews.net/95236:
""On Friday morning (9/12/14), the entire violent crime task force, entire special emphasis unit, one half of the day shift, two code enforcement officers and a member of animal control conducted a drug raid in the Fairfield neighborhood. Three felony arrests were made , including a fleeing, twice convicted felon who officers chased on foot. Officers also seized a distribution amount of heroin, cash and a 2013 Chevy Cruze.
Police Chief Jimmy Johnson explained the suspect did not initially hold his hands up and give up. “We had to run after him all over Fairfield,” Johnson said.
But before Johnson and the police resources left the scene, he received a phone call. One suspect charged with delivery of a controlled substance and fleeing had been released on a $2,500 cash bond.
“The guy was out of jail before our guys got home,” Chief Johnson explained. “I could not believe it.”"
BLOG ON MAGISTRATE RELEASING FELON TOO EARLY
Here is a blog I wrote right after the felon was released early. This blog displays what is wrong with the current judicial system.
According to Suspected Drug Dealer Released on Bond Before Police Leave Scene of Arrest , The Huntington Police Department conducted a
drug raid in The Fairfield District and arrested three suspects. The third suspect ran and took longer to be arrested. Police Chief Jimmy Johnson was on the scene and before him and all of his men even left the scene, he received a phone call saying the first suspect had already been released on a $2,500 cash bond.
Scott Bias, a Cabell county Magistrate let him go on a 2,500 cash bond. The two-time convicted felon did one hour and 10 minutes in jail Now, which is more unbelievable: the fact that the dealer got out before the police even got back to the station or the fact that he got out for $2,500? Really, Bias? 2,500? We have cops putting lives at risk? We have brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, mothers, fathers overdosing on products similar to this guy sells and
you let him out for
probably less money than he makes in a day selling his poison? Did you at least make him promise he would never do it again? Hopefully you got him to pinky swear that he wouldn't sell any more of his crap to our addicted citizens? Or did you ju8st let him take out his wallet and pay for it out of what he made on the rest of the batch?
Talk about speed and convience, does the courthouse have a drive-up window? Do they have a Domino's type pleadge to deliver your felon within 30 minutes. No wonder felons keep returning to court, it is such an easy process. No lines, no long waits...maybe they even cater a meal for them?
Do they have a frequent customer card that gives them discounts? This is a prime example of our flawed justice system. Well, maybe I should call it judicial system because it doesn't sound like justice is served.
Dang, Magistrate Scott Bias? Who's side are you on? What are you doing going for the thug vote in 2016? Are you trying to get a spot in a rap video? You certainly do not appear to be interested in helping getting the drugs off of the streets in Huntington.
We have a drug epidemic. Dealers are profiting off our addicted and at times - our youth. The police officers put their lives on the line going into dangerous situations against sometimes armed criminals from the streets of Detroit who come to Huntington to supply an illegal
demand. They do not have any idea of what awaits them
behind the doors they sometimes have to knock down.
The drug dealers are back on the streets even before the police can have a celebratory drink of coffee for their hard work. Soon as the cash register goes kkkkching! the dealers are back on the streets. Our courthouse has become The Cabell County Cash and Carry. Hit the express line, pay their fines, and go on your way.
This has got to stop! No wonder we have so many repeat offenders! no wonder we have punks like Josh and Jeremy Harless that have been arrested dozens of times. No wonder Charlie Runyon has been arrested over 100 times! But, dang, it's one thing to let little petty punks in and out, but now drug
dealers - the ones who come to town to profit off
of the sickness of addiction, are not even hassled with an overnight stay.
Scott Bias must be voted out in 2016 and any magistrate that does this kind of crap needs to be voted out with him. It appears that our politicians are so desperate for revenue that are profiting off of the drug dealers. They want to hurry and speed up the game of catch and release by getting them back on the streets so they can be arrested again and pay another fine.
KKKKCHHHHING!!!!!! The game is not hard to guess, the dealer that posted the $2,500 bond will not come back to court and the money becomes the courts. We don't have to worry about prison overcrowding on that bust because he won't see prison or even jail...hell, he's not even getting a timeout. He is out the money but guess what Huntington racks up 2,500.
So, it's like the primary goal of the courts is not to protect the public, make sure justice is served, or even rehabilitate, but to make a profit.
The old saying in Huntington is soon as you take one dealer off of the streets, more replace him from Detroit; but in all reality, the truth is actucally you never really take that dealer off of the streets. The dealer is arrested but is quickly released to resume business. That is why even with all of the arrests, the streets are still full of drugs.
Alligator Jackson says if the magistrates keep putting the dealers back on the streets then the voters need to put the magistrates out of office. Scott Bias goes to the top of the list of idiots that need voted out of office in 2016.
The courts are going to have to fall in line and take drug dealing and drugs seriously if the streets of Moneyton are to ever clean. The Mayor and the police are trying to send a message to the dealers of Moneyton that drug dealing will not be tolerated in Huntington but the judges are not backing them up. It's a game of catch and release; the police round them up but then the courts let them go. The jails and prisons are overcrowded but the message of zero tolerance has to be evident or the law will not deter the dealers from making money. If they feel like they will have to spend significant time in jail then they may not be so willing to break the law.
The Huntington Police face an uphill battle and need the courts to back them up. Another sign of what The HPD are up against was evident when two rival Detroit gangs shot up Whiskey Rocks, a downtown club.
Two Detroit gangs started shooting up the bar after getting into a fight. At least 13 shots were fired. One innocent bystander was sent to the hospital in serious condition after being hit in the stomach. The HPD conducted a raid at a Olive Street residence and arrested five people who were at the club at the time including one shooter. Over the next few days they arrested two more shooters.
"These gentleman had total disregard for human life," Huntington Police Capt. John Ellis said of those firing gunshots. "They just randomly shot throughout the bar."
Huntington Police Chief Jim Johnson seized upon the video's release. He insisted the visible flash from handgun barrels, sound of repeated gunfire and the sight of one bullet flying above the heads of scattering bar patrons all illustrate the caliber of Detroit-area drug dealers his officers chase.
The chief continually called for others to get onboard with a city offensive targeting drugs and violent crime. He stopped short of identifying any critics or detractors, but said Saturday's surveillance video "ought to be a training lesson for lawmakers in the state of West Virginia."
"When I hear people talk about, 'Well you're using too many resources on a small-level drug dealer,' that's the reason we use so many resources and need those resources," he said pointing to the video. "That could have been you, or you, or you."
Blog On Whiskey Rocks Shooting
Here is a blog I wrote about the shooting: The Detroit thugs who shot up Whiskey Rocks the past weekend proved that overdoses are not the only danger presented by the drug epidemic that has ripped through Huntington. Violent Detroit drug dealers pose a threat to even the innocent in Huntington. This was proven when an innocent bystander was shot and is in critical condition when he was hit by one of about 13 shots fired inside the bar. Although the incident was not drug related or territorial it was still a shootout between two groups of Detroit men.
The violence shows that the drug problem in Huntington is far from over. The Huntington Police did a great job by acting swiftly and arresting 5 men to blame. The violent shooting shakes me because it reminds me of a scene in my fiction book on Huntington's drug problem called Money Town. In the cautionary tale a violent shooting kills three people.
These thugs are for real and are no doubt upset at the progress Mayor Steve and The HPD has made in recent weeks in hauling dealers off the streets. Mayor Steve threatened a few weeks ago, "If you are a drug dealer you better get the hell out of town because we are coming to get you." Under Mayor Steve's leadership, the religious community in the area and many across the globe banded together in unity and prayed on September 7.
The shooting shows why we must stop the epidemic at any cost. Even though this was not a drug related shootout, these men are here to make money off of drugs and have tremendous firepower. If we cut out the drug trade then they won't have any reason to be here and no innocent bystanders will be hurt!
We must not let them intimidate us! Huntington is our town! We must stand together and take back our town!
Helping The Addicted
If Huntington is able to take the supply of drugs off of the street, the city will have to deal with the demand - that is the large number of addicts who are buying the drugs that will be sick once the drugs are taken off of the street.
Huntington is already starting to put plans into place to help deal with the vast number of users that will be sick. I listed a number of resources in my book "The Streets of Moneyton" but now more resources are coming to the rescue.
It was announced on September 19, 2014 that West Virginia organizations will receive $250,000 in grants to support community-based
coalitions working to prevent youth substance abuse in southern West Virginia.
U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall says the grant was awarded by the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
In Mingo County, the Strong through our Plan Coalition in Gilbert, a community coalition that aims to reduce youth drug abuse, will receive $125,000. In Cabell County, the United Way of the River Cities will receive $125,000 for the Cabell County Substance Abuse Prevention Partnership in Huntington. The grants have been awarded through the Drug-Free Communities Support Program. The DFC is a federal grant program that provides funding to community-based coalitions to address and prevent youth substance use.
The $125,000 given to Cabell County will help clean up the streets of Moneyton.
According to The Herald-Dispatch article on 9/21/14 "Building Becoming Hope Tower" by Jean Tarbett Hardiman:
" The former Prichard Building, located at 901 6th Ave., has a new name and a new purpose. Still owned by Shane Polan, whose family has owned the building since 1970, the building is now called Hope Tower. Polan has joined hands with leaders from Christ Temple Church in Huntington and Eddie James Ministries, an internationally touring Christian ministry that has had a special ministry to heal people battling addiction.
Together, they're in the process of transforming the building from a place that offered affordable housing -- which in recent years attracted some drugs and crime -- to a place where people can turn to escape a life of alcohol and drug addiction. They want it to be a comprehensive, spiritually based addiction recovery center where people will spend at least a year not only sobering up, but gaining a sense of purpose and finding a path to achieve their purpose in a healthy way. They have already served a small group of people and have done some construction work to prepare the building for its new purpose, but they want to start small and perfect their model before opening up the gates on a grander scale.
"I don't want us to be looked at as a rehab center. I want us to be looked at as a life transformation center," Polan said. "We want to help them get their driver's license, we want to help them get into educational programs and get their GED. If they need clothes, we're going to provide for them. If they need jobs, we're going to lead them down a path. If they want to get into ministry, we'll lead them down that path.
"These people when they come in, they literally have a backpack and nothing else. They've lived a lifestyle where they have nowhere to turn and ... we're going to be there to guide them back into society to where they're functioning and there's a renewing of their mind so that they're not just put back into the world sober, they're put back into the world with a purpose." "
The Charleston Daily Mail described another new asset to help clean up the streets of Moneyton in the 9/11/14 article "Non-Profit Group Dedicated To Helping Women Recover From Substance Abuse" by Charlotte Ferrell Smith. The article stated:
"HER, an acronym for hope, education and recovery, is housed in the Barnett Community Center, 1524 10th Ave. in Huntington, where free educational and support services are offered for women fighting
“It’s all peer-based,” said Margaret Van Zandt, executive director. “We are women in recovery seeking to share our experience, strength and hope with other women suffering from addiction to alcohol and other drugs. It’s pure support services. It’s all free. Call and make an appointment or walk in and we’ll try to help.
”Each woman seeking help is assigned a recovery coach and weekly meetings are scheduled as determinations are made for any type of referral services that may be needed. Among classes offered on site will be “Alcohol and Other Drugs,” “Relapse Prevention,” and “Woman’s Way Through the Steps.” There will also be health and wellness programs geared to women.
The idea for the organization came about in the spring of 2013 when a group of women attended a funeral for a young mother who died of a drug overdose. The mourners decided action needed to be taken to provide more services to women fighting addiction.
“We decided to do something,” Van Zandt said. “The first step is an educational outreach center at the Barnett Community Center. We got grants and private donations to rent office space and buy office equipment and curriculum."
The four recovery coaches who work on site received training through the West Virginia Coach Recovery Academy and expect to complete supervision requirements by the end of the month in order to receive full credentials. These are all women who have fought their own addiction battles. The organization is collaborating with various groups to expand class offerings and services. Programs to begin in October range from yoga to life skills workshops geared to topics such as money management or finding employment. -
Cleaning up Moneyton and bringing back Huntington is going to take teamwork, hard work, and time. Mayor Steve Williams and The HPD are committed and are providing the leadership. If Huntington residents will
continue to make it socially unacceptable to sell or buy drugs we can change the culture of Huntington.
The support of the religious community is crucial in changing the moral environment of Huntington. With charitable groups and rehab facilities pitching in to help the sick we can transform our city and clean up the streets of Moneyton. We can get our city back. We just must stand together.