- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Recent editorials from Kentucky newspapers:


Nov. 3

The Kentucky Enquirer on heroin use among children:

Sadly, unbelievably it has come to this.

Heroin and opioid abuse in Greater Cincinnati has become so bad that some are looking to children to deliver naloxone to save the life of someone dying from an overdose.

While well-intentioned, providing kids with the training to properly inject medicine through a vein, muscle or the nose is a very bad idea. No child should have such a responsibility, regardless of the circumstances.

The most recent effort to train kids to administer naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan, comes from a concerned Bullitt County mom named Jennifer Stepp. Her son, 25, is a recovering heroin addict. Jennifer is on a mission to train kids, including her 8-year-old daughter, to administer the drug, as reported by The Enquirer’s Terry DeMio.

Last year, a Northern Kentucky nonprofit began training children ages 13 to 17 to administer the life-saving drug because drug use is so prevalent where the children live.

Few people can understand the pain and suffering of a family whose loved one is addicted to heroin. Financial and emotional catastrophes often accompany hopelessness.

The Enquirer has been at the forefront in covering this epidemic, and the editorial board has led the way in encouraging a treatment- rather than punishment-focused approach to heroin. We supported the successful effort to pass legislation in Kentucky earlier this year allowing needle exchanges, making naloxone more widely available and protecting Good Samaritans who help overdose victims.

But saving a dying addict is the wrong fight for kids, and it contradicts what we’ve told them for years concerning handling needles and the health risks they pose, such as HIV and hepatitis.

Treating an overdose victim also isn’t as easy as it appears. Naloxone sends addicts into immediate withdrawal, and they can be violent when they regain consciousness.

Sadly, heroin addiction seems to be getting worse, particularly in Northern Kentucky and rural areas of Ohio. CBS’ 60 Minutes highlighted the problem Sunday by interviewing Columbus area addicts and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, who called it “the worst drug epidemic I’ve seen in my lifetime.”

The Enquirer has reported that 13,000 heroin users served jail time last year, and more than 300 users died in Greater Cincinnati.

Ultimately, only a collaborative effort from law enforcement, lawmakers, health care professionals - and, yes, a caring community - will get results.

But the best way for kids to help is to be trained in how to recognize an overdose and quickly seek a trusted adult for help. The message that should be impressed upon them for drug overdoses is the same as for any other emergency: Call 911.




Nov. 3

The Lexington Herald-Leader on the new Kentucky Attorney General:

Congratulations to Andy Beshear, the winner in the closely, and expensively, contested race for Kentucky Attorney General.

Beshear, who will be serving in his first public office, will face many challenges in the job as the state’s lawyer but the first will be to prove that he’s working only for the people of Kentucky.

He’ll have to show that he’s not looking out for the well-heeled donors who transferred their generosity to him from his father, Gov. Steve Beshear, who could not run for reelection; or for the clients of the law firm where he works, Stites & Harbison, which represents many companies that get in legal wrangles with the state, most notably Oxycontin maker Purdue Pharma.

We endorsed Beshear because his experience in complex litigation seemed to match better with the attorney general’s job, and his priorities of fighting child sexual abuse, protecting elders from scams and addressing drug abuse all align with Kentucky’s needs. His opponent, Sen. Whitney Westerfield, despite an impressive first term pushing successfully for juvenile justice reform and legislation to abate the heroin epidemic, promised on the campaign trail to use the power of the attorney general’s office to find ways to sue the federal government and promote his personal social values.

Attorney general is a tough job, one that can require a politician to pursue wrongdoing in his own party, or the other and within state government, and to take on huge private interests like nursing homes, energy and pharmaceutical companies, for-profit schools - the list is endless. So many of these interests poured millions - on both sides - into this race, hoping to have a sympathetic ear.

It’s the reality of modern politics but it is now Beshear’s job to keep his ear finely tuned only on the needs of Kentucky’s citizens.




Oct. 28

Kentucky New Era of Hopkinsville on newspapers in history:

Newspaper people are attached to the idea that journalism is the first rough draft of history. And even though historians prefer to pull the past from primary sources whenever possible, there are countless times when an old newspaper clipping provides a clue that is crucial to unraveling a mystery or revealing a personal story that is dear to family members.

Recently, we’ve been reminded of the importance of those first drafts.

A story the Kentucky New Era published in 1899 preserved the names of 227 Confederate soldiers who died in Hopkinsville during the winter of 1861-62 and were buried at Riverside Cemetery. That story helped an archaeology team find some of the graves. In fact, the 116-year-old newspaper archive survived when another historical record - a memorandum book last seen in a desk drawer at the Bank of Hopkinsville - was lost. The small book contained the names of the soldiers and information about the placement of graves in Riverside Cemetery, according to the newspaper article. Thankfully, those details were transcribed into the newspaper story.

The newspaper’s historical record even outlasted physical clues in the cemetery. After 101 of the bodies were exhumed and moved to an area near a Confederate memorial in 1866, wooden markers were placed at the graves. Twenty years later, the markers bearing the names had rotted away. But the newspaper, preserved in old bound volumes and on microfilm, is still available.

In October, 69-year-old archaeologist William Meacham, who has family connections to Hopkinsville, and his team found the remains of several dozen Confederate soldiers who were among those 227 who died in 1861-62.

The newspaper’s record was crucial to the discovery.

Also in October, we heard from a woman who recently visited relatives in Hopkinsville and made time for research at the public library. Teresa Davis scrolled through microfilm of 1950 New Eras to learn more about her late father, Ray Imler, who played with the Hoptown Hoppers from 1949-52.

Davis described becoming emotional as she read this description of her father: “Third baseman Ray Imler . the youthful Ohio boy who came here on his own last spring and was considered one of the league’s best prospects, should be considerably better this season .”

The paper’s record of her father’s glory days in baseball gives her access to part of his story she didn’t ask about when he was living.

“But as I have time and opportunity, I will keep searching the New Era microfilms for all the information contained there about my Daddy. I want to share it with my sons,” Davis said in an email.

Learning how newspapers from 1899 and 1950 are being used today to solve mysteries and build a family narrative reminds us that the papers we print today will serve a purpose long after the news of the day as been consumed.





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