Numbers don’t tell the story of this community

By Sarah Nichols - Contributing Columnist

“Fighting Fentanyl,” a recent article published in the Washington Post, paints a bleak picture of Washington Court House and Fayette County. In a footnote, the story mentions the passing of our jail levy this spring. A new jail facility will not repair all of our woes, but it will certainly give hope and adequate space to cope with the present scourge of drug addiction and jail crowding. For the passing of this levy, we are grateful. Can the citizens of a “depressed farming town” hope and plan for the future? Experience gratitude?

By many sources, we are one of the poorest counties in Ohio. And yes, we are indeed among the top in the nation for fentanyl deaths. These are facts formed from numbers – statistics, data. As with any branch of mathematics, we evaluate, examine and use these numbers. We are also capable of using our experience and intelligence to determine the value, validity and course of action we wish to take with this new information. Knowledge is useless without action; action lies in your hands. In addition to our first-responders, addicts and the families impacted by addiction, there are many initiatives in the community that can use your time, support and prayers: Second Chance Center of Hope, Rose Avenue Ministries, The Well at Sunnyside, Pathways to Recovery, and a community of exceptional churches.

Stop asking what neighbors, law enforcement, city and county administrators, state leaders, and national government will do. Each and every day, they are doing their part and more. Men and women of action are living, monitoring, patrolling, legislating, and paying to remedy this problem bigger than any one of us.

City and county leaders work diligently to support the quality community we have, and are making great strides in shoring up areas that need attention. Does a “depressed farming town” have the desire and means to expand the county YMCA, or build state-of-the-art educational facilities like Miami Trace School District, Washington City Schools, and Southern State Community College? Does it dream and create projects like Washington City School’s Big Blue Bus? Support and endorse outstanding resources like the museum, library, health department, hospital, Veteran’s Services, Commission on Aging, or Community Action, just to name a few?

The numbers tell a story, yes, but only part of our story. And the story is not unique. From the same article, “Fighting Fentanyl,” the Washington Post’s analysis of CDC data presents five of the top 10 counties in the U.S. with the highest annual rate of synthetic opioid deaths as Ohio counties. We are not a cursed land, a depressed community, or a sorry place to live. We are suffering, yes, but we are suffering the symptoms of a problem much bigger than us.

I love the community and county I live in. I look around and see great schools, a rich history, good people, and excellent resources. I will use this information to continue to choose Fayette County as the place my family and I live, work, play, and shop. I will support local businesses like the shops downtown, Fayette County Farmer’s Market, and our local Walmart and Kroger stores. Each place I go, I see familiar faces; I see Fayette County. There is no blame to place, no single action that will reverse our status. Change and investment takes each of us in every choice we make, every day. Finding, or in some cases, stumbling across data is just the beginning.

Sarah Nichols is the director of Carnegie Public Library.

By Sarah Nichols

Contributing Columnist