The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Latest News

January 26, 2013

Progress made, but drug war continues

Lawmaker: Scourge will get attention on many fronts

CHARLESTON — Every 19 minutes, someone in America succumbs to drug overdose.

That’s roughly three per hour, which is why West Virginia political and community leaders are making the silent epidemic a major issue in the coming legislative session.

Just this week, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin unwrapped the report of his Advisory Council on Substance Abuse, one that leans to a great extent on funding abuse treatment efforts in six specific regions of the state.

Not only should existing centers be maintained, but the council, in a year-end report, called for enhanced development of community-based, post-treatment recovery and prevention coalitions.

“There is no question that we are making headway on several important fronts,” says Debra Curry-Davis, director of faith-based One Voice in Pineville.

“Drug abuse awareness in the state and nation has brought this very serious problem finally to light. We continue to work to increase awareness and effect change.”

Sen. Mike Green, D-Raleigh, whose 9th District has become a focal point of a prescription pill scourge, says drugs remain “a significant problem” that will grab the attention of lawmakers on many fronts.

“The recommended legislation from the council is going to be a great place to start,” Green said Friday.

“The report lays the foundation to not only address substance abuse, but it will also assist in tackling the prison overcrowding issues that has handcuffed our local county governments.”

By all accounts, drug and alcohol abuse account for upwards of 80 percent of all incarcerations, with regional jails holding a severe backlog of state-sentenced inmates with no room in prisons. Consequently, the packed regional jails are putting a strain on county commissions to satisfy their jail obligations. In Raleigh County, for example, the cost is some $2.5 million, prompting Commission President Dave Tolliver to recently dub it “a $2.5 million drug bill.”

Green expects a session “filled with much debate,” considering the emphasis on drug abuse and education reforms.

“I look forward to hearing the governor’s legislative proposals at next month’s State of the State address, and I am eager to work and ensure these proposals become law,” he said.

Curry-Davis applauded the work of drug task force regional meetings, saying goals are being met.

“There is more to do, however,” she said.

“We must continue to work together to rid communities of illegal drug use through a comprehensive approach that includes educating youth and the public, coordinating substance abuse prevention and treatment, and providing support for families and friends of substance abusers.”

Curry-Davis says she eagerly is waiting to see what unfolds in the Legislature in the months ahead.

“The grassroots community organizations are still the most valuable asset to prevention, education, treatment and recovery.”

On the national front, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., went before a Federal Food and Drug Administration hearing to pitch for a change in elevating hydrocodone-combination drugs from Schedule III to Schedule II.

“Whenever I go back to West Virginia, I hear how easy it is for anybody to get their hands on hydrocodone-combination drugs,” Manchin said.

“The personal stories I hear from so many West Virginians convinced me that this change is so critical.”

After listening to testimony the committee voted to reschedule the addictive drug.

It will now be up to the full FDA to implement the committee’s recommendation.

— E-mail:


Text Only
Latest News
  • pittsburgh rally 5,000 rally in Pittsburgh against EPA Clean Power Plan

    The echo of people chanting, “Hey, hey, EPA, don’t take our jobs away” could be heard in downtown Pittsburgh Thursday.

    The voices came from about 5,000 United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) members and their families, along with other unions such as the Boilermakers and the Brotherhood of Electrical Workers International (IBEW), marching through the streets.


    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Alpha plans to idle coal workers

    Approximately 1,100 employees at 11 Alpha Resources-affiliated surface mines, preparation plants and other support operations in southern West Virginia got notice late Thursday afternoon that their jobs could be in jeopardy.


    August 1, 2014

  • New rules to fight black lung disease kick in today

    Joe Massie has spent the last 22 years of his life fighting a disease that takes his breath away, a disease he contracted deep underground in the coal mines over a period of 30 years. 

    Black lung may take away his breath; it has not stilled his voice.

    August 1, 2014

  • target red Zero tolerance Target Red campaign hopes to lessen intersection crashes

    It happens every day.

    A driver hurries on his or her way to work, school or maybe nowhere in particular. Just ahead, a green light turns yellow. With a little more gas, the vehicle just might be able to clear the intersection before that light turns red. Or maybe not. 

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Alpha announces intention to lay off 1,100 surface miners

    The announcement dealt another blow to Appalachia's iconic, but dwindling, fossil fuel industry. The company said 2015 industry forecasts show Central Appalachian coal production will be less than half of its 2009 output. It's due to a combination of familiar factors, Alpha said: competition from cheaper natural gas, weak domestic and international markets and low coal prices.


    July 31, 2014

  • Justice mines have violations in 5 states

    A West Virginia coal billionaire has more than 250 pending violations at mining operations in Kentucky and four other states.

    July 31, 2014

  • VA Greenbrier clinic to remain closed

    The Department of Veterans Affairs Greenbrier County Community Based Outpatient Clinic will remain closed due to ongoing correction of environmental concerns. 

    July 31, 2014

  • prezarrested.jpg Protesters arrested at UMWA Rally in Pittsburgh

    After marching from the David L. Lawrence Convention Center to the William S. Moorehead Federal Building in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, around 15 United Mine Workers of America (UMW) leaders were arrested.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo 2 Stories

  • Mercer shooting sends one to hospital

     One person has been shot following an apparent altercation in the Montcalm area of Mercer County.

    July 31, 2014

  • UMWA1.jpg More than 5,000 protesting new EPA rules at rally

    Today, 73 buses will bring miners and UMW members to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for a labor rally and march through downtown Pittsburgh.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo 1 Story