I attended a town meeting in Aurora last night. The subject of the meeting was a drug rehabilitation center scheduled to open here sometime next year. The Jacob's Ladder Rehabilitation Center would help young men solidify their sobriety in a safe environment. It would be located in an existing facility called The Aurora Project. Read more reporting about Jacob's Ladder here and here.
Present at the meeting were Doug Leech, the founder and president of Morgantown Sober Living, State Representative Randy Smith, State Senator Dave Sypolt, and Preston County Sheriff Dan Loughrie. Notably absent were any members of the Preston County Commission. That's significant because Aurora is not incorporated; it is considered part of the county and therefor under the commission's jurisdiction.
[Update: A reader tells me that Commissioner Dave Price did attend the meeting. If so, he was not introduced ...nor did he introduce himself ...at its outset.]
West Virginia's drug problem is well documented, as is the dearth of facilities available to drug and alcohol abusers who want to tackle their addictions and turn their lives around. And there is mounting evidence that it takes more than the 12 Steps, a one-month chip, and the occasional meeting to keep sober someone whose every instinct is to use and abuse.
We need more facilities like Jacob's Ladder. The question is, do we need one in Aurora? And will the participants in Jacob's Ladder pose a threat to this sleepy community, where Sheriff Loughrie says residents can expect a delay of a half hour or more between a call for help and the arrival of the authorities? And what's in it for Aurora? It doesn't sound like Jacob's Ladder will create jobs for anyone, or that local drug and alcohol abusers could afford to get help there. So why Aurora? And why we are only hearing about it now, as essentially a fait accompli?
Those are the a few of the questions Dr. Kevin Blankenship of Morgantown could have answered, had he bothered to attend last night's meeting. It was Dr. Blankenship who decided to locate Jacob's Ladder in Aurora, after what the Dominion Post describes as "several meetings with community leaders." Those meetings were news to many of us in the Aurora community, as were plans for the project itself.
The sentiment I heard expressed most often last night was that Blankenship is "forcing this down our throats." He not only should have attended the meeting, to answer the many questions that Leech could not, he should have called it. That might have gone a long way toward warming the welcome for Jacob's Ladder.