Mark Caserta: Huntington, WV. wasn’t always in this condition.

4 Oct

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The “Port of Huntington Tri-State” was one of the busiest inland ports in the United States.


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Mark Caserta is an opinion columnist and editor for Free State Patriot, a conservative blog.

October 4, 2019


 

The digital super-highway is laden with information about Huntington, WV’s rich heritage.  We haven’t always been a city nearly “last” in every measurable attribute.

Once described as a “historic and bustling city of commerce and heavy industry,” benefitting from its location on the Ohio River, it was home to the “Port of Huntington Tri-State,” one of the busiest inland ports in the United States, per online sources.

Birthed from the vision of Collis P. Huntington, a railroad capitalist, our fair city, once known as “Holderby’s Landing,” was incorporated in 1871 and renamed, Huntington, after its founder.

Growing around the railroad, which came through in 1873, the city began to prosper. During much of the 20th century it was a significant river and rail point for the nation’s business. Our resources, work ethic and geography enabled the city of Huntington to be manufacturing “rich and diverse”, producing railroad equipment, steel, coal, fabricated metal, mining equipment, rebuilt machinery, rubber products, chemicals and clothing.

Many “baby boomers” and those having grown up in Huntington recall industries such as, ACF Industries, Owens-Illinois, Fastenal and Kerr Glass. The list is as heartbreaking as it is seemingly endless. One by one, we’ve watched these opportunity outlets fade away, abiding in memory only.

Yes, there are many factors which have contributed to the demise of industry in our region, but none any more responsible than decades of failing, liberal Democrat policies.

Some things never change.

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With the eradication of good-paying jobs, “hope was sure to follow”. Hope is simply having a vision for the future and a purpose for one’s life. The Bible says that “without vision, the people perish.” I can think of no better way to describe our city. It is perishing a slow, painful death.

I’m resigned to believe our leaders are either incredibly ignorant of the situation, or they don’t care. Either way, it isn’t our city’s leadership that’s paying the price – it’s the citizens.

When all we hear are the “accolades” being bestowed upon our mayor for being on the “front lines” of the battle against opioid addiction, yet, the situation has never been worse, something doesn’t pass the smell test. Frankly, I’m tired of people “peeing” down my back and telling me it’s raining!

Again, this has nothing to do with a dislike of the mayor or city leaders. It also has nothing to do with a lack of compassion for those bound by addiction, entombed in poverty or impacted by crime. Anyone who uses this argument against simple reasoning, isn’t being intellectually honest with you!

And it’s sheer insanity to keep going down the same road and expecting different results.

It seems to me, the only results we’re seeing is the increasing number of people being “captured” in the nets of addiction recovery houses. I have heard from numerous, credible sources, some of these recovery institutions are now actively “soliciting” addicts from outside the state of WV. into our city for treatment.

Could this be possible? If they truly want to help these folks, support efforts in their states and cities, NOT OURS! THE CITIZENS OF HUNTINGTON HAVE ENOUGH ISSUES OF THEIR OWN WITHOUT TAKING ON OTHER STATE’S PROBLEMS!  THIS IS ABSOLUTELY UNACCEPTABLE!

Yet, sadly, government subsidies follow these individuals right into these institutions. You be the judge as to who benefits the most. But, in no way, shape or form, could it be the citizens of Huntington.

Someone has got to “stop this wheel of absurdity!”

We must demand a third-party audit of not only the Cabell-Huntington Health Department’s needle exchange program, but the success rates of many of these rehabilitation institutions. Maybe, I’m just overly cautious, but based on what I see with my own eyes, I’m not willing to take anyone’s “word” on the success rate. Too often, perceived results can be skewed by emotion and personal investment in the project. Give us accurate data; not emotional responses!

Ultimately, the taxpayers own these programs and have a right to see where their hard-earned money is being spent! In the interest of transparency and good will, these rehab facilities, as well as the Cabell-Huntington Health Department, should willingly submit to ongoing audits. If for no other reason, to share learnings and make necessary adjustments that will make them even more successful!

No organization supported by taxpayer dollars should ever be allowed to “fly under the radar”.

The city of Huntington will never be able to return to a community filled with industry and solid work ethic until three things happen.

First, we must have leadership ready, willing and able to look beyond political aspirations, directly into the heart of the city and do what’s right for the people – not for their paycheck.

Secondly, we must change our mindset on how to effectively reduce the opioid epidemic, rather than expanding our nets of enablement.

And finally, the people of Huntington must take a stand and embrace a sense of urgency in making these changes.

Time is not an abundant asset in this fight. We may, already, be close to the point of no return.

Don’t accept lip service. Expect accurate, unbiased information.

And then use it to turn this city around.

 

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