By MELINDA WILLIAMS
Pulaski County Board of Supervisors will back the town of Pulaski in its objection to a proposed “methadone” clinic in Pulaski Mall.
“I have mixed feelings (about the clinic), but I think the town has some good points,” Draper District Supervisor Dean Pratt said. He was referring to a letter the town sent to Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services in Richmond, stating its objections to the clinic.
The town received a letter from Health and Developmental Services in December indicating Gary Gavornik of Easton, Pa. filed for a license to operate an “opioid treatment center” in the store adjacent to Save-A-Lot and originally occupied by Pulaski Drugs.
Pratt’s motion to support Pulaski’s position was seconded by Robinson District Supervisor Charles Bopp and was approved by a 4-0-1 vote. Ingles District Supervisor Ranny O’Dell was absent from Monday night’s budget work session, where the vote was taken.
The motion included three reasons for supporting the town: principle, alternative programs already available locally and lack of local control over clinic operations.
Community Development Director said he feels the town evaluated the issue thoroughly before making a decision to object.
Utt noted town officials took a good approach, making valid objections as to why it would not be good for the town, such as the ongoing tornado recovery, the fact the town is economically restructuring from its industrial background and that there are alternative programs available.
“They didn’t want to take the ‘NIMBY’ (not in my back yard) approach,” he added.
Massie District Supervisor Andy McCready said he served on New River Valley Community Services Board for six years, so he called its executive director, Harvey Barker, to get his input.
He said Barker indicated that while it would offer community services another tool for drug treatment, the impact it would have on the community would be determined by how it is run.
If the facility has a full-time doctor and counselors on staff, it “could be a positive” for the community, McCready said of Barker’s summation.
“But we have no idea from this (paperwork filed for licensing) whether it will meet those guidelines,” said McCready. “There are way too many unknowns.”
It was pointed out that methadone treatment is “not a cure, it’s harm reduction.”
In other words, the methadone is not as hard on the addict’s body as the other drugs they are addicted to and since addicts certified for the program can get the methadone free, they don’t turn to theft and other crimes to support their habits.