Following a moment of silence and time to remember Commissioner Bob Norton, who recently died following a battle with cancer, the Elkin Board of Commissioners Monday night appointed Jeff Eidson to fill the vacant seat on the board.
“He will be missed, and we may have someone sitting in his seat, but he’ll never be replaced,” noted Commissioner Dr. Skip Whitman of Norton, adding he was a “watchdog over every penny we spent.”
The other board members also remembered Norton as a “family man,” someone who “was very diligent,” and “a fine gentleman.”
Prior to handling any business other than the consent agenda, Mayor Sam Bishop introduced the discussion of appointing a person to fill Norton’s term, which will expired in 2018.
When nominations were opened, Commissioner Tommy Wheeler nominated Eidson, and Commissioner Terry Kennedy seconded the nomination. No one else was nominated.
During the discussion of the motion to appoint Eidson by acclamation, Whitman wanted to take time to explain to the town residents why the board was appointing him.
“He had the next highest level of votes in [the November 2016 election], and he is committed to the town,” Whitman said of Eidson. “That’s why we feel that way.”
Bishop also noted Eidson’s recent leadership of a committee he selected to drive events and entertainment to downtown Elkin, now named Explore Elkin. “We had almost 300 people there,” he said of the March 29 Explore Elkin kick-off event. He said $25,000 was raised already for that group’s efforts, “all because of the way Jeff handled that.”
The appointment of Eidson was unanimous.
Methadone clinic downtown discussed
During public comments, Elkin residents Carol McDowell and John Wiles both expressed concern with hearsay around town that a methadone clinic is considering opening in downtown Elkin. According to American Addiction Centers’ website, “a methadone clinic is a place where a person who is addicted to opioid-based drugs, such as heroin or prescription painkillers, can receive medication-based therapy.”
Both McDowell and Wiles encouraged the commissioners to utilize any means they have available to prohibit the clinic from opening downtown.
“If it is needed in this town, it should be put on a medical campus or some other place where it wouldn’t interfere with what we are doing downtown,” McDowell said.
She asked the town to make sure zoning regulations are in place so that downtown can serve as a place for retail and restaurants.
“It was very concerning,” Wiles added of hearing about the possible clinic location. “It is not the place for a methadone clinic. We have pain management on Johnson Ridge Road with skilled doctors. With all the hard work members of the board and community are doing, it offers a perception of a crime spike.
“Use the tools you have to and use zoning to keep this from happening,” he said.
Bishop said as mayor, he had received several calls from people concerned about the rumors of the methadone clinic, with Commissioners Cicely McCulloch and Whitman also agreeing they’d had calls.
“I don’t think we need something like that downtown. There are other places in town for that,” Bishop stated, as he tasked the town staff with looking into any ordinance amendments that might be needed to prohibit such an establishment from the downtown area.
“I want to echo my concern with the methadone clinic,” said Whitman near the end of Monday’s meeting during a time when board members can express any concerns about items they may have. “I think we have a doctor and a practice in town that is well qualified to help people get off these medications.
“My experience as a physician has not been good with methadone. It has the highest death rate of all medications used, I don’t support it and never prescribed it,” he said. “As a physician those are my concerns. I think we have newer ways to get people off medications.”
Wendy Byerly Wood maybe reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.