The Richmond Register

Local News

August 16, 2013

‘City of Hope’ - Wall unveiling marks UNITE’s 10th anniversary

MANCHESTER — Over the years, this hardscrabble little town nestled among the hills and mountains of southeastern Kentucky has been beset by some unwelcome publicity about political corruption, poverty and drug use.

But over the last nine years or so, it has also come to be known as the “City of Hope.”

Friday, local leaders unveiled a “Wall of Hope” in celebration of the 10th anniversary of Operation UNITE, the drug education, treatment and enforcement agency founded by U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers. That portable “wall” is covered with photos of those who have survived drug addiction, sought treatment and turned their lives around.

But the mood was more one of salvation and deliverance than just of simple hope in the face of despair.

During the past decade, UNITE has turned around the lives of so many who had succumbed to the despair of drug addiction.

“For the first time in a decade, drug overdose deaths declined last year in Kentucky,” Rogers told more than 200 people at the Eastern Kentucky University extension campus here. One might be forgiven for thinking he was singing to the choir — for in a way he was.

Among those 200 were many who have survived the ravages of pain-pill addiction, escaped a life spiraling out of control or toward prison or death and now are productive citizens. Parents and children of those who didn’t survive, as well as prosecutors, ministers, business people and law enforcement officers also were present.

Rogers said it was fitting the ceremony was conducted here, where nine years ago the community came together, 3,500 strong, marching through their streets with signs saying they’d come to “take our community back” from the drug lords and addiction.

That led to Manchester’s being called “The City of Hope.”

Rogers told them the Clay County coroner recently informed him that drug overdose deaths — which in Kentucky now exceed the number of deaths from vehicle crashes each year — had declined by 50 percent in the past three years.

“So what you’re doing is working,” said Rogers.

Rogers praised the volunteers and staff of UNITE — Unlawful Narcotics Intervention, Treatment and Education — which he founded. He sang the praises of a hometown boy, state Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, who helped lead the fight to pass House Bill 1 to crack down on “pill mill” clinics and fund more treatment for the victims of drug abuse.

Over 10 years, UNITE has helped “put 4,000 pushers in jail;” paid for 3,000 vouchers to pay for drug treatment for those who can’t afford it; diverted 3,300 drug offenders into the highly successful drug court process; and the best news of all, Rogers said: “200 babies have been born drug-free.”

So there was joy and celebration but there were tears as well.

John and Nancy Hale, both career educators, told of the horrors of dealing with a drug-addicted son. John Hale said both of his sons were great kids, never missing a day of school and never earning less than an A on report cards, both of them starring in football at Rockcastle County.

But the younger son, Josh, suffered a shoulder injury that required three surgeries in 16 months and he became addicted to pain medication.

There followed “nine years that were the hardest and most painful of our lives,” Nancy Hale said, sometimes stopping to regain control of her voice or to wipe away tears.

“You can either curl up and die emotionally or you can choose life,” she said, after nothing she and her husband did seemed to help their younger son. “If that meant life without our son, then we would choose life.”

Her husband told of the day he told his son he had three choices: “You can get help; you can get arrested; or you can die. But we’re ready for whatever it is you choose.”

A month later, their son again sought treatment, and this time succeeded and returned to college, completing his degree. He then graduated from Mercer College Law School and is married and successful.

At one point, Rogers asked for anyone in the room who had completed the UNITE treatment program to raise their hands, and dozens did.

A group of young men from a treatment center — Chad’s Hope Center, named for a deceased son by his bereaved father — walked to risers in front of the veiled Wall of Hope as a man sang, “Thank God, I’m Saved.”

They held signs on one side of which they wrote something that told of their lives of drug addiction (one read “Needle Junkie”) and then reversing the sign, they showed what their lives had become (“Jesus Junkie”).

Later they helped Rogers pull back the curtain concealing the Wall of Hope. There in photo after photo were smiles of achievement, looks of hope on the faces of those who’d survived the scourge of drug addiction.

“The people on this wall were doomed to the obituary pages of the newspaper,” said Rogers. “Instead, many of them are here today and alive and well.”

There on that wall, in those faces, were all the reasons anyone in Manchester needed Friday to call this place a City of Hope.

 

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Berea utility doubles solar farm, again

    Berea Municipal Utilities started its solar farm in October 2011 with 60 panels. In less that five days, all were leased.
    Another 60, which became operational in June 2012, were leased in less than four months.
    Now, the farm again has doubled, with the addition of 126 panels that are ready for leasing, said Steve Boyce, a retired Berea College professor who has been involved with the program since its inception.

    July 30, 2014

  • Miss Madison Winners 2.jpg My fair ladies

      

    July 29, 2014 5 Photos

  • 10th Quilt Extravaganza is Friday, Saturday

    Displays of quilts by men, baby quilts, the Grandmother’s Flower Garden pattern, an exhibit of feed sack fabric, ongoing demonstrations, and a vendors market are features of the 10th Berea Quilt Extravaganza Friday and Saturday at Berea Community School off Ellipse Street.

    July 29, 2014

  • 7-30 Samantha Frederick.jpg RPD: Heroin sales lead to trafficking indictment

    Executing a warrant issued after Samantha Frederick, 29, Northgate Drive, was indicted July 16 by a Madison County grand jury, Richmond Police arrested her Monday on drug trafficking charges.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • 7-29 YMCA-Schools.jpg YMCA, county district to provide after-school care

    The Telford YMCA is partnering with the Madison County School District to provide after-school child care for kindergarten and elementary students.
    YMCA Executive Director Dave Wallace and Madison County School Superintendent Elmer Thomas announced the partnership Monday afternoon.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • 7-29 Lucille May 1.jpg Memories bloom in May’s garden

    After realizing a story was being written about 96-year-old Lucille May, tenants of Willis Manor gathered in the lobby to share stories about her.
    Affectionately called “Mamaw” by other residents and workers at the apartment building, May has spent the four years of her residence transforming an outdoor garden that was overtaken by weeds. It’s now a thriving flowerbed, complete with interesting rocks, decorations and conversation.

    July 29, 2014 4 Photos

  • 7-29 Construction 1.jpg Water Street storm-water digging begins

    Caisson holes were drilled and then filled with concrete and steel poles Monday to create a retaining structure to shore up the Allstate Insurance building foundations' firm when excavation for the Water Street Stormwater Improvement Project begins.
    Digging for 20 ton, 6 by 7 foot concrete box culverts will begin today, if weather permits, said Jason Hart, Richmond’s director of Planning and Zoning. The culverts will help reduce the likelihood of flooding on Water Street by carrying storm water under Main Street, the CVS parking lot and Irvine Street to a stream, he said.

    July 28, 2014 4 Photos

  • 7-29 Robert Abney.jpg RPD: Bottle bomb injures man, damages neighbor’s home

    Richmond Police on Friday charged Robert Abney, 30, of Moberly Avenue, in connection with a May 30 explosion that injured Abney and damaged a neighbor’s home.
    Officers were dispatched May 30 to a residence in the 500 block of Moberly Avenue to investigate the report of an explosion.
    They found the remains of a plastic bottle bomb near a residence adjoining Moberly’s, according to an RPD news release. A wall of the occupied home was smoldering and grass was burned in the area, it added.

    July 28, 2014 4 Photos

  • 7-29 Steven Coffey.jpg Two led police on I-75 chase from Berea

    Berea Police found a man passed out and intoxicated inside his crashed vehicle on Interstate 75 Wednesday, according to a police report.
    Steven Coffey, 34, of Berea, had slurred speech and was unsteady on his feet when officers arrived at the vehicle, the police report stated. They determined he was under the influence of drugs, the report stated.

    July 28, 2014 2 Photos

  • 7-27 HeartChase 1.jpg A race to the finish line

    Sheltered by overcast sky and supported by a cool breeze, teams competed Saturday morning in the second annual HeartChase at Richmond Centre.

    July 26, 2014 6 Photos

AP Video
Raw: Japanese Soldiers Storm Beach in Exercises Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Two Women Narrowly Avoid Being Hit by Train In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast New Sanctions on Key Sectors of Russian Economy Crayola Announces Family Attraction in Orlando US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Poll

Should Madison County’s three local governing bodies ban smoking in indoor public places?

Yes
No
     View Results