Tag Archives: opioid crisis

Mark Caserta: Huntington, West Virginia: Is it dying a slow death?

23 Sep

Drug syringe and cooked heroin


huntington, wv


Mark Caserta: Free State Patriot editor

September 23, 2018


An opioid drug crisis, a decaying city infrastructure, fomenting liberal policies, a withering level of pride for the city of Huntington, and a “less than prominent” presence on the national stage for its inadequacies – Welcome to Huntington, WV.

Is this a city in which a family would want to raise their children?  If not, what are we doing to correct it?

I’ve lived in, or around Huntington, WV. for nearly 60 years.   I remember when Huntington was a city admired and envied by others desiring to achieve the wholesome radiance and charming gravitas we once possessed.

Of course, we’ve always had our problems.  Every city has them, the larger, the more of them.

But in the past, we’ve always found a way to overcome them.  We’ve always risen to the occasion and come together as a community for the common good of our people.

In November, 1970, Huntington showed the world we could rise from the ashes in solidarity.  I remember, just like it was yesterday.  Every school, every business, every single person was united as we grieved over the loss of 75 innocent lives.  I remember gathering in the gymnasium of Davis Creek Elementary, holding hands and honoring players, coaches, boosters and members of the press lost on the hillside of Tri-State Airport, as Southern Airways Flight 932 made its final approach.

The field of tears are forever etched into my memory, but, also, the resilience of the citizens of Huntington and their determination to not fade quietly into the night.  This resolve laid a foundation on which our grand city would flourish over the next 40 years.

Yes, some “ups” and “downs”, but always forward.  But now, Huntington, WV. is in a crisis. For many who have spent their lives living in this city by the great Ohio River, it feels like Huntington, WV. is dying a slow, painful, agonizing death.

We’ve conceived a generation, void of hope, and dying of drug overdoses.  And how do we address it?  We provide them needles.  And as larger, progressive cities, such as San Francisco, contemplate “safe injection sites” for intravenous drug users, per The San Francisco Chronicle, one must wonder how far behind Huntington city leaders are in proposing similar “enablement” facilities in our area.

We even have a news media, both print and television, that appear to be adopting leftist’s policies and filtering information to our citizens, in other words, “fake news” or news designed to disingenuously influence people.

Who are they trying to protect?

A July 2018 story by Monique Laborde, of WV Public Broadcasting, entitled, “Huntington Mayor Champions LGBT Inclusion”, describes our city’s mayor, Stephen Williams’ endeavors to improve conditions in Huntington for the LGBT community.  This year, Huntington recognized the month of LGBT awareness by hosting its second annual Pride Picnic.

Of course, the event was family-friendly, per the report, while kids played in a sprinkler nearby.

How sweet.  Our city could sure use some new folks.

Per the most recent information from Data USA, Huntington, WV. has a population of around 48, 735 people with a median age of 34.6 and a median household income of $29, 834.  Between 2015 and 2016, the population of Huntington declined nearly half a percent, while the median household income declined .13%.

I’m confident, given the apparent, continued decline, these numbers have gotten worse.

But as people continue to vacate our city for greener, safer pastures, what sort of people are we attracting?  Entrepreneurs? Business? Purpose-driven individuals seeking an environment fertile for growth?

Not a chance. Huntington is being avoided like the plague by anyone hopeful for the future!

Consider the foundation on which we are building our city’s future?   Our city leadership appear determined to follow the same progressive path that’s brought ruin to larger, more successful cities.  These are the exact same liberal, socialist policies embraced by Barack Hussein Obama, which sent our nation on a downhill spiral unparalleled in my lifetime.

Oh, and the exact same liberal policies that helped elect Donald J. Trump, much to the chagrin of liberals like we have at Huntington’s helm.

Just who are these people?  Of course, we see the elected officials, those running point for the elite, but who makes up the deep state in Huntington?  Who are these progressive “puppeteers” who never seem to make print or video, but are in the shadows, weaving their webs of deceit and tilting our city to the far left?

In this humble columnist’s opinion, our city’s priorities are completely upside down, as are most progressive policies.  Our city leaders have no sustainable vision for the advancement of our community or the protection of our people.

Their intent?  Just follow the money.

At the current rate of decline, what will the condition of our city be in 5 years, 10 years?  It’s not a welcome proposition.

It’s time for the citizens of Huntington to take back their city. It’s time to elect leaders with the ability to attract business and make our city safe for its occupants.  It’s time to hire city leaders who have a vision and the aptitude to get us back on the right track, before it’s too late!

It’s time to make Huntington great again!

Mark Caserta: Liberals are stealing the hope of tomorrow

16 Sep

Where are the Christians?

cross and flag


Mark Caserta: Free State Patriot editor

September 16, 2018


Would you like to know what liberals have over many Christian conservatives?

I’ll tell you.

Commitment and a willingness to sacrifice for a cause.  Get mad if you want, it’s true.  And sadly, we continue to retreat against their advance and give ground to progressives, who every day, conjure up a new way to displease God and destroy His perfect creation.  The anti-Christian acts they employ continue to become more abominable in God’s eyes, yet where are the so-called “warriors for Christ”?

When will we say, enough is enough?  It better be soon, because they’re killing the soul of our nation, our states and our communities, by destroying our hope of tomorrow.

Progressives simply don’t subscribe to the fact that at some point in life, everyone will acknowledge God as the author and finisher of our faith. The Bible says in Philippians 2:10-11, “that at the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord”.

Please believe Hell is a very real place – and it will be the home of way too many people, for eternity; not a year, a hundred years or even a thousand years, but forever.

It’s important to remember the enemy has but one purpose here on earth: To steal, kill and destroy.  The progressive movement is the quintessential tool by which the enemy deploys many of his weapons.  Many liberals don’t recognize an eternity in which they will answer for their iniquities.  All they see is today; and today is all they desire.  And they accomplish that by removing our tomorrow.

Allow me to explain.

Our tolerance to abortion is killing our tomorrow. When Roe v. Wade was ruled upon by the Supreme Court in 1973, even then it was a highly sensitive, polarizing decision. Yet, at the time it was encumbered with several common-sense limitations that took into consideration the mother’s health and the viability of the fetus.  Over the years, liberals have attacked the parameters relentlessly.  Now, 45 years later, we now have abortion, for all intents and purposes, on-demand.  And frankly, if liberals had their way, partial-birth abortion and even “live birth” abortions would be common-place.

If you aren’t familiar with those terms, shame on you.  These are two of the most horrific ways imaginable for a civilized country to murder innocent children, and fall nothing short of Herod’s attack on Jerusalem’s first born or Pharaoh’s decision to do the same during Israel’s deliverance out of Egypt.

Jesus loved children.  He knew their importance in the Kingdom of God.  He even told his disciples in the New Testament, “Suffer the little children to come unto me”.

Jesus knew children would be our tomorrow.

I personally believe there will be a designated, unimaginably horrible place in Hell for those who have intentionally murdered the most innocent among us.  I do not envy those choosing to end the life of one of God’s children simply out of inconvenience resulting from a poor decision.

The opioid crisis is killing our tomorrow by literally taking the lives of a generation without hope.

By removing the addict’s hope for tomorrow, they continue down the path of destruction, narrowly dodging calamity, until one day, it catches up to them.  They tighten the tourniquet, insert the needle and in a few moments, take their last breath on earth. Perhaps their next cognizant moment will be in a dark, foreboding forever, where forgiveness and hope have vanquished in the fiery pits.

Too theatrical for you?  Too dramatic?  I assure you, words could never describe the despair of hell or the evil, contriving hearts of men.  It doesn’t matter if you believe, it’s real.

Within our own city of Huntington, WV. we have a “deep state” willing to compromise the soul of our city for power and wealth. In the end, only death will result.

Bishop Desmond Tutu is quoted as saying, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.”

Darkness is all around us.  Occasionally, there are rays of light that peak through the dense clouds, but the darkness is very real and tenacious.  It won’t falter, it won’t grow weary, and it won’t grow faint in its mission to destroy each of our tomorrows.

There is only one way to firmly dismiss the darkness and that’s by the entrance of light, a Holy Light.

I know of only one group of people from which that light will shine – Christians.  Where are they?  Are they afraid?  Are we so selfish, we won’t commit to a fight which may ultimately be fought by our children and grandchildren?

We must take a stand now.  We must take back our nation and our city. Together, we can be a mighty force for good.  But “together” consists of “individuals” engaged and working toward a common goal.

Can we get started?  We have some committed people in the trenches already.  I’m pleased to join them in the fight: Tom Roten, host of The Tom Roten Morning Show on News Radio 800 WVHU; Norm Miller, founder of Huntington City Watch, with over 17,000 followers; Steven Davis, founder of League of Principled Citizens and Scott Caserta, 2020 Huntington Mayoral candidate.

These are great people to get behind.  I fully support their efforts.

Don’t let liberals steal the hope of tomorrow.  Let’s be the shining light we were intended to be.  God will never place us in a battle in which He won’t fully armor us for victory.

But we must take up the sword.

Together, we can’t lose. But if we choose to sit on the sidelines, we surely will.




Mark Caserta: Has “The Swamp” come to Huntington, West Virginia?

9 Sep

Does Huntington have its own progressive version of the “Deep State”?


Mark Caserta:  Free State Patriot editor

September 8, 2018


During the past two years, I’ve written often about the so-called “Deep State” within our nation’s capital. This suspected syndicate of clandestine individuals wielding ominous power, possibly even elected by the American people, sanction an ideology antithetical to the peace and prosperity of our nation’s citizens.

These shadowy figures are resolute in their mission to destroy the Trump presidency, at all costs, simply to regain the power to negate his wins for Americans and return us to the “Obama era” and the successes of the progressive movement.

This past Friday, as former Huntington City Councilman, Scott Caserta, and I were filling in for Tom Roten on the “Tom Roten Morning Show” on 800 News Radio WVHU, one of our distinguished guests, Steven Davis had some thought-provoking input. Steven is the founder of the League of Principled Citizens and League of Principled Men and has his finger on the pulse of Huntington.

steve davis

(Steven Davis:  Founder of League of Principled Citizens and League of Principled Men)

During our interview, Steven referenced the Deep State within our city.  Admittedly, the notion took me by surprise.  But the evidence supporting the possibility is mounting.  We discussed several key indicators that this may be a reality with which we must deal.

Has Huntington, WV. allowed the fostering of a Deep State within our own city?  Have we allowed the spawn of progressive power and influence to prostitute our city for political expediency?  Is there a network of individuals, each possessing applicable resources to include your tax dollars, local media and a “stump” from which to orate, determined to cripple our city for political gain?

As I’ve observed through the years, allegations of misappropriation of funds, inability to effectively manage a budget and inappropriate declarations of social injustice have materialized within our city’s leadership hierarchy. Now, in fairness, these are issues hundreds of cities across our nation face with comparable degrees of severity.

But very few cities in our country rise in comparison to Huntington, WV. when it comes to failure in effectively dealing with the opioid crisis and the subsequent collapse of infrastructure and sustainability.  And sadly, it’s placed our once great city on the nation’s radar.

A March 7, 2017 Washington Post column by Christopher Ingraham revealed how the drug overdose related deaths in West Virginia helped overwhelm a “state program providing burial assistance for needy families for at least the fifth year in a row.” The column went on to share the program nearly ran out of money four months before the end of the fiscal year, per the WV Department of Health and Human Resources.

In 2015, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, West Virginia’s drug overdose rate stood at 41.5 cases per 100,000 residents, the highest rate in the country and nearly three times the national average.

And as 2020 Mayoral candidate, Scott Caserta observed on our radio show, “Those are just the ones reported!”

scott caserta

(Scott Caserta:  2020 Huntington Mayoral Candidate)

An October 2017, PBS News Hour show with Hari Sreenivasan, entitled, “America Addicted”, shared that opioids are now the biggest drug epidemic in American history.

The PBS team traveled to the Mountain State city of Huntington, WV for a first-hand glimpse of the problem. They discussed the fact that tragically embedded in what was deemed to be the biggest drug epidemic in American history, West Virginia had the highest death rate from drug overdoses in the country and Huntington was at the apex of city’s hardest hit by the epidemic.

A June, 2017 CNN column by Andrew Iden, entitled “An EMTs view from the front lines of America’s heroin crisis,” offered unique perspective from Gordon Merry, director of Cabell-Huntington Emergency Medical Services, which is on the front line of the battle against opioid addition.

“One overdose is too many. It is unacceptable. The people, I don’t know why they do it,” he said. “It’s destroying a whole generation. We’re losin’ em.”

The column shares Merry, while spending over 60 years in Huntington, is at a loss as to why people turn to the drug that is now, by local health estimates, “affecting a quarter of Cabell County’s population.   A well-documented statistic revealed, at one point, the city endured 27 heroin overdoses in the “span of four hours,” per the column.

Now, I realize “common-sense” isn’t so common anymore, however, given the magnitude of Huntington’s drug problem and the escalation of associated crime, wouldn’t any intellectually honest person expect city leadership to heighten and empower levels of law enforcement within the city?

Yet, in January 2017, per WSAZ News in Huntington, WV., Huntington Mayor Steve Williams authorized the dismissal of 24 city employees from the Police and Fire Departments, along with announcing a hiring and nonessential spending freeze until further notice.

Mayor Williams explained:

“The fact is when we came down through the end of the fiscal year and knew that some things were tight, we asked for budgets as we were preparing for the coming year,” Mayor Steve Williams said on an edition of “First Look at Four.” “… the next thing, we look at where we are right now, and that’s when the overages in each department became extremely clear. This should’ve been seen sooner. This is nobody’s fault but mine.”

So, how has city leadership decided to address Huntington’s growing drug epidemic?

They haven’t.  In fact, they’ve gone as far as enabling them in their addiction.

Cabell-Huntington’s health department, to maintain blood-borne diseases associated with intravenous drug use, began a needle exchange program, which provides drug users syringes free of charge when they return a used needle.

Two problems here:  The first is the notion of someone avoiding a blood-borne disease when they’re dead seems like liberal reasoning to me.

Second, reported tracking of the needle exchange program reveals it is far from balanced.  Only a percentage of needles are returned, completely negating the program’s purpose and providing a method of injection, at no cost, to an individual who probably doesn’t have the money to purchase it, otherwise.

Reportedly, 3,800 individuals visited the needle exchange from September 2015 through 2017,
“accounting for about 21,000 visits, an average of about six visits per person.”

The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department recently discontinued it “syringe exchange program” under pressure from local police.  Charleston Police Chief Steve Cooper implemented a new set of regulations which included using “only retractable needles, serving only Kanawha County residents, requiring patients to present a government-issued ID to receive needles, and confining the program to a one-for-one needle exchange.

I suppose these common-sense requirements were simply too restrictive in nature.  Yet, Cabell-Huntington Health Department continues its program fecklessly.

Another tool employed by local emergency medical entities involves the use of “Narcan”, a drug designed to block the effects of opioids in the brain and bring the overdosed individual back to consciousness.

Again, the problem is that while every life is precious and none of us would intentionally withhold the deployment of this drug if we could save a life, it simply does not address the issue.  It enables it.

The underlying question from many individuals informed in the matter is, “Why do city leaders continue to execute steps proven to be ineffective in reducing opioid abuse in our city?”

Some believe it’s about money.  I’ve heard the charge that “there is money in addiction”. Narcan, needles, counseling, and other associated services tending to the crisis, all put money, your money, into someone’s coffer.

Admittedly, 5 years ago, I would never have subscribed to such an allegation.  After all, Huntington, my home town of nearly 60 years, is better than that!  Our leaders are better than that!  Our citizens would never allow that to happen!

But in 2018, the population of Huntington, WV. is on the decline.  Good people are leaving.  Our base of Christian conservatives is shrinking in comparison to the spawn of progressive, liberal-minded knuckleheads.

Are we losing the battle?  Is there a Deep State of progressives spreading like a debilitating virus throughout the Tri-State? Does Huntington, WV. have their own local version of “the Swamp” filled with liberal vermin.

If so, what can the citizens of Huntington, WV. do to combat it?

I propose we escalate the fight.  We must become informed and engaged -NOW!

My friend, Steven Davis, also made another profound declaration during our interview last Friday.

“You don’t drain a swamp, you fill it in!”

My jaw dropped when he eloquently spoke these words!  Draining the swamp leaves a marshy, muddy mess which will only be inhabited by a different sort of critter.  We must fill the swamp with rich, viable, business-friendly earth that will provide an environment for the return of business and quality residents to our area.

There was a time, Huntington was recognized as a city where one would desire to raise a family and nurture children.  We were a town built on principle, ethics and with the peace and prosperity of its citizens in mind.

We can return. We can “Make Huntington Great Again”. But as we’ve seen on a national level, it means removing the ineffectual leadership and replacing it with someone who will put “Huntington first” rather than a liberal ideology.

I believe in you Huntington. There are no better people on earth.  Those of us indigenous to the area know we are hard-working, intelligent, principled, God-fearing people.

Let’s take our city back.  Let’s remove the cancer that’s growing and crippling the function of all other body parts.

Let’s do it by being informed, engaged, vocal, and avid voters.

May God bless and protect our city and our great people.



%d bloggers like this: