Owensboro, or the "BBQ Capital of the World" due to its BBQ festivals and competitions held every year, has a history starting back in 1797, although there is evidence of American Indian settlements in the area dating as far back as 12 thousand years ago. 1797 marked the time when the first European settler came to the area, William Smeathers. The settlement was first known as the "Yellow Banks" due to the color of the land beside the Ohio River.
It was at this settlement in 1817 that the Lewis and Clark Expedition would stay at over winter prior to departing on their famous travels across the United States. It wasn't until 1893 that Yellow Banks would formally take on the name Owensborough after Col. Abraham Owen and then in 1893 the name was shortened to its current Owensboro.
In 1865 a 300 mile, 6 day, raid from Confederate guerrillas from Tennessee would make its way through Owensboro in a failed attempt to rob a local bank. Although the robbery was a failure, the guerrillas did take 13 Union soldiers prisoner and execute them.
Owensboro was also the site of the last public hanging in the United States in 1936. The execution of Rainey Bethea for charges of rape and murder, was presided over by Sheriff Florence Shoemaker Thompson who was given national media attention for her role in the process.
The city is famous for its International BBQ Festival that they have held since 1979. The event is held every second weekend in May and attracts upwards of 85 thousand people.
Kentucky General Assembly Passes New Heroin Bill:
With each legislative day costing the state of Kentucky approximately $60 thousand dollars, state lawmakers worked into the early hours in order to pass a series of bills before the legislative session closed. The bill they were working on was to address the growing heroin problem throughout the state.
The debate between the Democratic House and Republican Senate lasted months, but finally struck a compromise. They took up many things in that legislative session including a gas tax freeze, civil protections for victims of dating violence and teacher's pensions, but the main issue was the growing heroin problem.
The new bill includes many different programs that aim to attack the heroin problem, some are happily received but some are controversial topics:
- Stiff Penalties: The bill introduces harsher penalties for people caught trafficking drugs. This is a two front attack as it will give those on the edge a reason to avoid bringing more drugs into the state and, for those who choose to do so anyways, will keep them off the streets longer through added jail time.
- Local Needle Exchange: Individual areas, such as Owensboro, now have the option to initiate needle exchange programs. These programs tend to be considered right on the edge of desired and controversial. They are centers where drug addicts can obtain clean sterile needles by exchanging the ones they have for them. Although this does not directly address heroin use, it helps lower the spread of HIV through needle sharing among addicts.
- $10 Million Funding: $10 million dollars has been put in for drug treatment programs to open up more centers where addicts can go for help.
- Availability of New Drugs: The more controversial law passed by this bill allows greater access to two drugs, naloxone and vivitrol, for use in addiction and overdose treatment. Drug based treatment is often criticized for simply substituting one addiction for another rather than handling addiction.
Increase in Addiction Services Demanded in Kentucky:
Currently the estimated funds spent annually on drug treatment in Kentucky is $29 million, whereas the amount spent on incarceration is an astounding $525 million. The contrast between these two numbers are far too great.
Now, admittedly, not all crimes have drugs as there cause, but depending on the area, the numbers are very high. Some areas, like school campuses, have 95 percent of violent crimes being drug related and 90 percent of sexual assaults being drug related. Additionally, as many as 80 percent of inmates have been found to be drug abusers and as high as 60 percent of people arrested test positive for drugs at the time of their arrest.
Drug users turn to crime more so than any other category of individuals, this may sound obvious as drug abuse is itself illegal, but it also includes other crimes such as robbery, theft and public endangerment from the violent outbursts associated with so many drugs.
Groups, such as the Volunteers of America, are urging the Kentucky state government to increase the investments in addiction treatment services. If drug treatment funding had even 10 percent of the funding that incarceration has, a significant dent could begin to be made in, not only drug addiction, but criminal felonies as well.
Other proposals include decriminalizing non violent drug offenses and the implementation of a good samaritan law protecting those who call 911 to save someone else from overdose. Both of these would reduce the stress on the criminal justice system and free up more funds for those people to instead go into a treatment center for help.
Non violent drug offenses like drug possession cause money to be spent on incarceration, which does not handle addiction, when the same funds could be spent on addiction treatment which could help the person to no longer need drugs in life.
Owensboro Treatment Options:
Owensboro has six primary treatment centers for alcohol and drug addiction. Only two of these are outpatient only care, while the remaining ones all offer some level of inpatient care such as partial residential stay or halfway house support.
Many centers also have specialty programs for DUI, DWI or criminal justice clients. If you are looking for a center for yourself or a loved one, you should check with them as to what type of financing is available there as different centers accept different types of insurance and not all are able to accept certain types of insurance such as Medicaid.