Data shows Walker has worst drug problem in state

Posted 5/10/18

Let's clean out the notebook … • Well, I'm told this has been talked about before in local meetings discussing the drug abuse problem, but 24/7 Wall. St., an online site for equity …

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Data shows Walker has worst drug problem in state


Let's clean out the notebook … 

• Well, I'm told this has been talked about before in local meetings discussing the drug abuse problem, but 24/7 Wall. St., an online site for equity investors, decided to do a listing story (we get seemingly 10 a day), on the county with the worst drug problem in each state. Of course, Alabama is first on the list, alphabetically. And, of course, the worst state listed was Walker County, with our courthouse used as the photo. 

The annual drug deaths per 100,000 residents was listed at 47.5 in the county and 16.0 in the state. A total of 160 drug-related deaths were listed for the county in 2012-16, with 3,113 listed in the state. They also noted the poverty rate was 21.9 percent and the population for the county is 65,593. Data was said to come from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's WONDER web application. Drug-induced deaths included unintentional overdoses, suicide, homicide and undetermined causes. 

I did get to looking at the list to see how we ranked in deaths per 100,000; we look to be fifth highest. Worse than us were McDowell County, West Virginia, at 88.9 per 100,000; Floyd County, Kentucky, 68.5; Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, 60.2; Dickenson County, Virginia, 51.5. Nationally, 16.5 in every 100,000 die each year from drug overdoses, mostly opioids, the site indicates. Unemployment and poverty is linked to many of the highest county rates. 

• The murders across the Fayette County line on County Road 63 brought to our attention something that I was not aware of — that area of Fayette County  not only has a Carbon Hill address, but is only minutes from Carbon Hill and in some ways considers itself more aligned to that city and this county than Fayette County. 

• I kept wondering where I had seen Randy Dodd, the new employee at the Walker County Commission who was hired recently from the state Department of Examiners of Public Accounts. He noted he had been in Marion County on a number of occasions, which rang a bell. I think his experience will be greatly useful to the county this year. (I saw Robbie Dickerson with financial paperwork spread over her desk; no, we're not out of the woods yet.)  

• For that matter, it was good to chat with Amy Burleson at First Bank of Jasper, as she used to be employed at a bank in Hamilton. Of course, I was used to Britton Lightsey being at Alabama Power in Marion County before he transferred, and now the head of the Hamilton Campus of Bevill State Community College, Beth Roberts, a Winfield City High School graduate, is taking over as the head of the Jasper Campus. I feel like I led an exodus some days. (That is not counting when I see people cross the line to shop and eat in Jasper; that happens practically every day.) 

• Some of us wondered the other day why a ABC 33/40  trailer was parked at the courthouse square. Apparently there is an sponsorship arrangement between Jasper Main Street and the station to do promotions on a regular basis, so the station was allowed to temporarily set the trailer there. At that time it was a spotlight on a local business, Warehouse 319, as I soon saw the tape of a stand-up spot on the courthouse square. 

• To the person who asked me about the use of solid waste fund in the county, I am told funds are not being switched out of there to pay for another employee over in the General Fund, or the other way around, either. The commission office indicates they are keeping those monies separated out. 

• Remember that the last day to register to vote in the June 5 elections is May 21, while the last day to apply for a regular absentee ballot is May 31. 

• Having just opened in its new spot, Five Loaves Bakery was slammed on Tuesday with customers, with one server out do to a sick child. I was lucky to get a spot on the bar, and had a good grilled chicken salad. You have to enter in the back of the building, so I wonder how that might improve traffic at the local stores in that area. If we keep spreading business out in downtown, it will have that affect, which gives me hope.

• I had a filling gone bad and I needed my teeth cleaned, so I finally had to pick a dentist. I decided to be loyal to my physician, John Bivona, and take his brother, Jacob, who seemed to be just as cool as his brother. He said some very nice things about the Daily Mountain Eagle and he and his staff were were good to talk with during the cleaning and tongue examination. (I have to keep tabs due to tongue cancer years ago.) I still have to wait until Tuesday for the final work on my jagged tooth. 

• Latest recommendation on Kindle: "The Pride of the Yankees: Lou Gehrig, Gary Cooper and the Making of a Classic" by Richard Sandomir. Pretty good review of the effort to make essentially the first successful baseball movie, with some more history of Gehrig's struggle with the illness, which was truly heroic. Big takeaways: No one has a good complete record of Gehrig's farewell speech (even the newspapers); what we do know of the speech was resorted and revised in the movie; a batting coach and others had to work with Cooper to make him swing left handed like Gehrig; the actress who played Gehrig's wife did not go to a Yankees game until late in life, and only then became a big baseball fan; and the problems with Gehrig's mother were much worse in real life. (Before Gehrig died, the mother claimed to Gehrig's wife he wouldn't be that sick if she was caring and cooking for him, resulting in such a blow up that the dying Gehrig banned his mother from the house.)