Todd Fiscal Court approves Harm Reduction program that includes needle exchange

Todd Fiscal Court unanimously gave the go-ahead to the Todd County Health Department Friday morning for its Harm Reduction program that includes a needle exchange.

Health Director Jen Harris had already received approval from Elkton and Guthrie city councils to operate programs in those cities.

She says each person addicted to drugs who uses the program’s services won’t have to submit their name, but they will give some data that will help tell the story of the county’s drug problem and needs.

Each participant will also be tested for infectious diseases.

While she stressed the needle exchange is only a part of the program, participants will be able to receive clean syringes when they hand in used needles.

The Harm Reduction program will also include a drug prevention curriculum for young people in the school system and adult participants will have the opportunity to be connected to a certified peer counselor who can help them begin steps to get clean.

Magistrate Brent Spurlin says he was initially skeptical and heard from people who believe the needle exchange is only a way to enable addicts, but he changed his opinion as he learned more.

Todd now joins Hopkins County as the only ones in the Pennyrile Region to offer a needle exchange.

In other action, Fiscal Court approved final reading of its $7.4 million budget with a couple minor changes, including a $2 hourly raise for a maintenance employee at the recommendation of Judge-Executive Todd Mansfield. Squire Alfred Blake voiced opposition, saying he had no doubt that the employee deserved the money, but that there were other county employees with a longer tenure who were just as deserving.

Overtime pay in the Todd County Jail has been up significantly this fiscal year, which Jailer Jeff Penick says is due to training he’s implemented and a few employees out on medical leave. He hopes to see those numbers normalize in the upcoming fiscal year.