Working to keep our county and its residents safe and healthy is one of my top priorities. As these subjects relate to safety and health, I would like to address Augusta Bottom Road safety improvements and the causes behind prescription drug and heroin abuse here and across the state. Each a different issue, one is in the process of becoming fully resolved, and my wish is that one day the other will, too.
St. Charles County’s portion of Augusta Bottom Road is in my district, and it has served as a convenient path for many residents as they travel to and from Washington or other parts of Franklin and Warren counties. Several years ago, a segment of the road in Warren County was deemed unsafe following a tragic accident. There were years of debate and legal proceedings between multiple municipalities regarding responsibility for improving the segment. Because of the importance of this road to residents and the connection it provides, St. Charles County took a lead role in working with Warren County, the City of Washington, the Town of Augusta and local land owners in putting together an agreement to do the right thing and make the segment of road safe. In the agreement, Warren County will handle the road construction with all parties sharing the costs of improving the road and installing guardrails. Construction is in process. In all my years of public service, as the County Councilman for the area near this segment, this was one of the most challenging issues in which I have been involved. I believe these efforts have strengthened St. Charles County’s relationship with the City of Washington and Warren County. As this road is an important connection for St. Charles County residents, my hope is that these improvements will help prevent another family from suffering such a devastating loss.
Looking at another issue that has impacted our community, St. Charles County, the State of Missouri and our country are under siege with the heroin epidemic. Heroin has become a leading cause of death (more than traffic fatalities) in the United States. Missouri is the only state in the country that does not have an opioid prescription drug registry at the state level. In most cases, your average person gets introduced to opioids through their doctor while dealing with a medical issue. Sometimes these drugs can be over-prescribed. A prescription drug monitoring program can allow a physician to query a database to see how many times and from how many different doctors a patient is being prescribed opioids. This can greatly reduce over-prescribing or doctor-shopping by addicted patients. The dangers of these drugs are that some patients can come to desire a heavier fix and turn to heroin.
As a result, we have become a hot bed in the country for drug trafficking and distribution. If there were thousands of people dying from a disease, wouldn’t you hope that some action would be taken? Why is this any different? This is not a low income society problem – it is quite the opposite. Overuse is abuse and can turn anyone, from kids to adults, into addicts.
Something has to be done. In his latest blog
, County Executive Steve Ehlmann explains the actions St. Charles County administration and law enforcement have taken against heroin – it is time for the Missouri Legislature to step up, too.