By SHARON K. HALL
The number of Knott County drug related deaths is staggering. In only the first six months this year Knott County Coroner Jeff Blair reported 15 deaths: 10 were overdoses and five were drug or alcohol related. The same number was recorded during the first six months last year, eight overdoses and seven were related to drugs or alcohol. “These figures are not exact, there are probably more,” said Blair. “Since we do not have a hospital in the county some of the overdose deaths may be worked by coroners in adjoining counties of Perry, Letcher, and Floyd.”
Knott County Ministerial Association, Knott County churches and faith communities are banding together with the Knott County Drug Abuse Council (KDAC), law enforcement, and local government to fight the drug problem in the county. One of the newly revived Knott County Ministerial Association’s goals is to try to get ministers in the area up to date on the drug problem. They also want to make the pastors knowledgeable with KDAC. To this effect the Ministerial Association encouraged local pastors to attend an informational meeting Saturday at the Holy Hills Mall. A variety of ministers from different denominations attended as well as Knott Circuit Judge Kim Childers and Knott Deputy Judge Executive Phillip Champion, and other concerned individuals.
Pastor Doug Abner of Manchester, director of the Appalachian Center for Transformation, spoke to the gathering about Clay County’s campaign against drug addiction. Abner said residents would put up a white wooden cross along the highway when someone died. With so many drug- related deaths the white crosses soon were so thick it looked like a white picket fence. This prompted Clay County residents to do something.
Beginning in 1994, the Clay County community and church members banded together to fight the town’s drug problem. Unity helped and the drug problem has been in decline.
About a five minute segment of “An Appalachian Dawn” was shown at the gathering. The documentary is about the transformation of Manchester’s seemingly helplessness of drug abuse and corruption to a “City of Hope.” The DVD shows all levels of forces fighting drug abuse, law enforcement, UNITE, pastors and church communities, etc.
Pastor Reggie Hall of Victory Baptist in Possum Trot shared, “I didn’t realize what these kids are doing – hillbilly meth labs in back of trucks. Someone told me he watched meth being made. They poured in Drano to make it and then used it.”
Someone stated that Knott County has more kids living with their grandparents than with their parents. “Our kids are messed up. We got to give hope in the Lord Jesus.”
Judge Childers said her office could produce a list of treatment options and services for drug addicts.
Pastor Richard Bowers of the Little Carr Bible Church in Mallie ended the meeting. “Pray about this and when we come back together we will begin to develop a plan.”
Another meeting is scheduled soon to devise a plan of action.