Government, Preston County

Preston Commissioners hear of need for drug, mental health services for residents

KINGWOOD — Addiction recovery options for Prestonians are limited, but work is being done to expand them, Preston County Commissioners learned Monday.

Commissioners Dave Price, Don Smith and Samantha Stone declared September National Recovery Month in Preston County at the regular commission meeting.

They were told that an estimated 129,000 West Virginians 12 years and older are classified as having alcohol or illicit drug dependence or abuse, and about 314,000 adults have mental illness. “There isn’t enough help, and also we can’t force people to get help,” recovery coach Shasta Bell said.

People can get into detoxification within six to eight hours, if they call toll free 844-HELP4WV. Transportation will be made available to reach detox. While efforts are made to schedule detox as close to the patient’s home as possible, sometimes it is some distance, Bell said, such as Huntington.

After detox, she will work with patients to try and get into a recovery program. “But again, they have to want it,” she said.

“There’s more resources in the southern part of the state,” said Preston County Probation Officer Cherity Shahan. There are no outpatient treatment facilities in Preston County, she said. The closest are Morgantown and Fairmont, she said.

For example, Preston County Chief Probation Officer Crystal Thomas said, she has a client who submitted five applications for inpatient treatment at the end of August and is still waiting for a bed. Another problem is getting transportation to treatment for the patients.

“This is awful. What can be done?” Price asked.

Preston County Family Resource Network Director Nicki Davis said they are working together to figure how to best reach the population that needs services, to get them to accept they need services and to get their families to accept they need services outside of what they can provide.

The Network is, “Starting to look at what our available resources are in terms of funding, in terms of grants … and we’re working on putting together a peer recovery program and a youth advocacy program related to substance abuse prevention,” Davis said.

While recovery has to happen, “our real goal has got to be reaching our friends and neighbors and dismissing the stigma that goes along with reaching out for help for mental disorder and for substance abuse disorder and create a community that is prepared and opens its arms,” she said.

It’s hard, but must be done to save our communities, Davis said.

Last week she met with two Terra Alta churches and is expanding outreach within the faith community to create an interfaith group to help.

Price asked which drugs are the biggest problems in Preston County? Meth and opioids, Davis said.

Also Monday, commissioners:

— declared this Constitution Week and will join entities around the state in ringing the courthouse bell at 4 p.m. today.

— declared Sept. 25 National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims. Water lanterns will be released at 6:30 p.m. that day at the Preston Country Club lake, to honor victims. Anyone who would like to honor someone is asked to contact Preston victim advocate Stacey Greaser at 304-329-1885 or

— approved the hiring of T.A. Nestor as a probationary deputy sheriff. Nestor started Monday at an annual salary of $32,000.