Breaking with my usual format, I am reporting with sadness that a neighbor and friend, Roger Nelson who had been the Floyd County Coroner longer than I had been a local, died unexpectedly following a brief period of illness. It was Roger who first answered my questions about how many folk were dying of drug-related causes. He was concerned and alarmed that the numbers seemed to be growing with no official response, locally, at the state, or at the federal levels. He had been reporting the numbers! He provided information that allowed me to project future drug-related death numbers for a workshop I conducted, sponsored by Hope in the Mountains, in 2006. Hope was then a fledgling program for recovering women seeking to establish itself, and Roger commented on how much it was needed. Hope in the Mountains now provides long term recovery services to women seeking to recover from the disease of addiction. I was heartened, at that time by Roger’s response: reviewing his records and providing the first solid information I had found that the problem was indeed on the increase. Information he provided grounded my projections, and they have proven accurate. Just recently, I had the opportunity to thank him again for his hospitable and concerned response at that time. Of all the health providers and officials to whom I have expressed my concerns, Roger was the first to back his concern with an offer of help and suggestions as to how to get that information out. Floyd County has lost a dedicated public servant, a knowledgable health official, and a kind and examplary man. My deepest sympathies lie with his wife, children, and surviving family members. May he rest in Peace!
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