Volunteers pick up 25 needles during Scott County cleanup event - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Volunteers pick up 25 needles during Scott County cleanup event

Posted: Updated:
In March, Kentucky governor Steve Beshear signed a bill allowing local governments to institute needle exchanges if those municipalities saw fit. In March, Kentucky governor Steve Beshear signed a bill allowing local governments to institute needle exchanges if those municipalities saw fit.

SCOTT COUNTY, Ind. (WDRB) -- Residents in Scott County, Indiana say they will not let the HIV epidemic there define them.

On Saturday, they walked the streets making sure their kids and neighbors stay safe.

"We're close-knit, we like to stick together, and we like to take care of our own," Lindsey McDonald said.

That same message was written all over red T-shirts that read, "This is My Town", a slogan that touches so many residents working to take back Scott County.

"We know that we have a problem and we know we have to do something to fix this problem,” said McDonald, who organized Saturday's big cleanup.

The area in Scott County has seen 106 recent cases of HIV due to drug use and sharing needles.

“People do care, and people do want to help," she said.

The Indiana Department of Health was there as well, providing safety supplies and teaching people how to properly dispose of needles.

"We have specific personal protective equipment that is sharps-resistant and tongs that will pick up paraphernalia as well,” said Jennifer Walthall with the Indiana Department of Health.

More than 30 volunteers spent Saturday afternoon walking through parks, schools and areas known for drugs - picking up trash and looking for dirty needles.

"There have been so many reports of dirty needles just laying around,” McDonald said. “We have so many kids in this community that just walk over to their neighbor's house, they walk to the playground. It's such a small, tight-knit community and if one of those kids steps on one of those dirty needles, that's their life."

It's the first HIV epidemic of its kind that health officials know of in a rural area with a high population of IV drug use.

“The combination of those two things is really the first that have been described,” Walthall said. “And that's why it's so imperative that we do things thoughtfully and correctly, so it becomes a model for if this happens in another community."

There's a needle exchange in Austin, but the governor says it'll end before the month is over. Now it's up to residents to take back their county.

“There's not even words to express how happy we are that people are reaching out to us. And we're reaching out to them, and we're gonna tackle this and fix it."

Volunteers say they picked up 25 needles on Saturday, mostly from ditches.

If you see one on the ground, the health department says leave them alone and call the local authorities.

Copyright 2015 WDRB News. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2017 WDRB. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.