North Carolina editorial roundup
Recent editorials from North Carolina newspapers:
StarNews of Wilmington on resources needed to maintain clean water:
We take for granted that we’ll always have clean, reliable water flowing into our homes, keeping fire hydrants pressured and water-reliant businesses running.
After three fairly recent scares, folks in our area should know that a clean, safe and reliable water system can easily be interrupted or tainted. A ruptured raw-water supply line caused by Hurricane Matthew in October 2016; a generator-fuel shortage last year during Hurricane Florence; and the ongoing saga of GenX contamination demonstrate the vulnerability of our water-supply systems and why they require proper oversight, maintenance and investment. Water is the most vital public service in our region. We could survive weeks without electricity; a widespread major disruption in the water supply would be an unprecedented crisis.
These three instances are important — and educational — because they are each so different. One affects the safety of the water itself; one the ability to get water from our primary source — the Cape Fear River — to a treatment plant; and one the ability to get the water from a treatment plant to users.
Wisely, action has been taken on all three issues. Although the problem is far from over, the presence of GenX and other industrial chemical contaminants in our waterways is very much on the radar here and elsewhere across the nation, including Congress.
After its plan for generator fuel deliveries fell through during Hurricane Florence, the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority has strengthened and added redundancy to its fuel supply and delivery, as well as other emergency plans.
Now construction is about to begin on a 14-mile, 54-inch raw-water pipeline that will increase the Lower Cape Fear Water and Sewer Authority’s capacity from 41 million gallons a day to 96 million. More important, the line, which will parallel one already running from Kings Bluff on the Cape Fear River, will add much-needed redundancy. (It was the Kings Bluff line that ruptured after Hurricane Matthew, sparking a significant water shortage for the area).
Meanwhile, both Brunswick County and CFPUA are planning major investments to increase the ability of water-treatment plants to filter out GenX and other industrial contaminants, including those we might not yet be aware of — as was the case with GenX.
We are fortunate that our region has the resources to make these improvements. Many communities across the state are struggling to deal with outdated water and sewer systems, an issue that the General Assembly needs to address.
Having clean, safe and reliable water and sewer systems is not optional.
News & Record of Greensboro on preventing the spread of violence:
As her children looked on, a 26-year-old Greensboro motorist was shot twice in the head.
On a Sunday afternoon in March, someone killed Carolyn Tiger with a semi-automatic rifle ... over a fender bender.
Police say Tiger died after being taken to Moses Cone Hospital. It was the eighth of 22 homicides in the city so far this year.
Tiger’s Nissan had collided with a light-blue Hyundai at the intersection of South Elm-Eugene Street and Meadowview Road. After the cars continued along South Elm-Eugene Street north to Patton Avenue, the Hyundai’s driver tried to block Tiger’s car.
Then he got out of his car, removed the rifle from his trunk and opened fire on Tiger’s car as she attempted to drive away. Police are still looking for the man who fired the shots.
A recently released autopsy report has shed additional light on how the incident unfolded. But it doesn’t tell us why.
It’s certainly understandable that a driver would be angered if someone hit his car and didn’t stop. It is not understandable that this would be treated as a capital offense.
Pull out your cellphone, not a rifle. Take down the license plate number. File a complaint with police. But, for God’s sake, don’t kill anyone.
The article about the autopsy appeared in the News & Record eight days after a 14-year-old was fatally shot at Sussmans Park in Greensboro. And two days after a spray of bullets pierced the walls of an apartment in Winston-Salem, killing a 5-year-old. Arrested were a 17-year-old, a 15-year-old and a 14-year-old in what police suspect was a random shooting — a luck-of-the-draw fatality.
Coincidentally, over the weekend, area NPR stations were airing a segment of the TED Radio Hour in which physician Gary Slutkin was explaining a program that both Greensboro and Guilford County have considered adopting. Slutkin, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, contends that violence should be treated like a contagious disease.
Slutkin conceived the approach after noticing how, when it is mapped, violence occurs in clusters, just like the AIDS and malaria he has treated in Africa. A program he founded in 2000, Cure Violence, involves three steps:
Interrupt transmission by “detecting and finding first cases.” (“Violence interruptors” are hired from the communities involved.)
Prevent further spread.
Shift norms through community activities and education.
Cure Violence is not without its skeptics.
In Durham, the only North Carolina city that has adopted the program, homicides are up this year. Since Jacksonville, Fla., initiated its program on June 8 there have been 11 homicides in a city that has seen 63 so far in 2019.
But the model’s overall track record is impressive. A variety of third-party evaluators, including the U.S. Justice Department, have found significant decreases in crime in communities that use the Cure Violence template. The concept is worth a serious look as part of broader efforts to save lives here, where, thankfully, we do view opioid addiction as the disease it is.
Clearly, the status quo is not working. It’s time to try something else.
Goldsboro News-Argus on the opioid epidemic and the impact of inhalants on young Americans:
The use of an inhalant — or “huffing” — likely was the cause of death for a Wayne County man found dead in April in a Goldsboro parking lot, according to an autopsy the News-Argus reported on Wednesday.
Huffing is substance abuse that involves inhaling fumes from household products to experience a high. Also known as sniffing or inhalant abuse, the practice is undertaken for a euphoric feeling or hallucinations.
The man discovered in the Goldsboro parking lot reportedly had multiple cans of compressed air found with him.
Such a death is a social tragedy. Of course, we offer condolences to the man’s family and empathy for their devastating loss. We will not further identify the deceased in this editorial, in deference to the family.
But we all must keep in mind that one person’s drug abuse of any kind can have devastating effects on a significant number of people. Huffing is a problem, especially for younger Americans. It is the true gateway drug. For instance, huffing inhalants tends to be children’s first drug abuse. Kids start as early as age 10 with 25% of U.S. students intentionally abusing everyday household products to get high by the time they reach the eighth grade. Current numbers show that more than 2.6 million children 12-17 use huffing each year to get high.
Of course, opioid abuse is getting most of the attention, especially heroin, which is cheaper on the streets today than in the 1980s and ’90s.
Heroin impacts society in many ways. For instance, in Wayne County in April, the Goldsboro-Wayne County Inter-Agency Drug Task Force made 22 arrests and had 13 more active warrants following an eight-month investigation. Of those arrested or sought, 10 were for heroin possession and sales and nine were for Schedule II controlled substances, which include opioids that have a medicinal purpose.
Here are some key points to consider regarding how the drug affects people throughout the U.S. from therecoveryvillage.com, the website for a nationwide network of rehabilitation facilities:
— The number of people using heroin for the first time in 2016 (170,000) was nearly double the number of people first trying the drug in 2006 (90,000).
— Heroin is cheaper and purer than it was in the 1980s and 1990s.
— There isn’t a typical heroin user anymore. It’s now more common in the suburbs and among wealthier users than it was before.
— Heroin is one of the most deadly drugs.
— More people seek treatment for addiction to heroin than for any other drug.
— Drug overdose deaths involving heroin rose from 1,960 in 1999 to 15,482 in 2017, statistics the National Institute on Drug Abuse released in January.
— According to the 2018 National Drug Threat Assessment from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, 2016 saw 15,469 heroin-related deaths in the U.S., up 19% in one year.
We all know that drug and substance abuse is a problem. It didn’t go away with the 20th century. The only substantial changes are the revamping of old drugs, such as heroin, the climbing abuse of pharmaceuticals — opioids, and the broader array of inhalants and the younger the kids are using them. So, for your sake, for your family’s and for society in general, take a page from the terrorist ID book: If you see something, say something about abuse.