By Jeff Noble / Staff writer
A candidate for State Representative in the 82nd District told Whitley County UNITE Coalition members Monday he would like to see tougher laws for those using and selling drugs. In addition, Larry Goins, of Williamsburg, said current prosecution and rehabilitation methods need to be looked at as well.
Goins and current State Representative Regina Bunch were invited to Monday’s UNITE meeting, held at noon inside Williamsburg City Hall. Both were invited to speak on the issue of drugs, and what they would do if elected to fight the problem in the 82nd House District, which includes all of Whitley and southern Laurel County.
While Bunch was unable to attend, Goins spent some 20 minutes talking to local coalition officials and about a dozen people who came to the noon meeting.
During the discussion, Goins stated state funding was important to the drug fight, and taking a harder line on drugs was what he stood for.
“The drug programs work better with the local police and sheriff’s offices, and they need more funding. We need to do away with plea bargaining, and work on making laws mandatory with stiffer penalties. Plea bargaining is a waste of time. Many people are sent to drug court, and they go through a long process there, then as soon as they’re out of drug court, they’re back in the stores, wild-eyed,” said Goins, who is self-employed and owns rental properties and a grocery store.
When a UNITE member asked Goins if he would hire a convicted felon, Goins paused and replied, “Would I hire a convicted felon? Yes, I would.”
Goins also said one of the best ways to battle the problems with drugs would be for prosecutors to show they mean business.
“We need to see facts. You’ve got to have some logic on what you’re going to do. Our rehabilitation system’s not working. I hate drugs. Drugs are the leading cause of burglaries, and we also need to teach our children at a younger age. And we need thorough investigations why people die from drugs. Once you put a few of them up for first-degree or second-degree murder, and put them in prison, that’s a deterrent. It’s like my dad making me get a switch from a tree and making me give it to him to punish me for something I did wrong. It’s a deterrent. You learn fast,” he added.
Goins finished his talk by agreeing the local UNITE coalition is underfunded and needed more help. Earlier in his talk, he said several projects in the district needed to be completed, including what Goins called “unfinished work on the Williamsburg floodwall,” as well as improvements to roads and infrastructure. He also stressed more state funding for projects, but also to cut waste from the state government in Frankfort.
“We need someone to speak up for us in this district, and someone to do the job full-time... I’m truly dedicated to serving the people of Whitley County,” Goins said.
The regular UNITE session was more of a one-on-one talk with the group’s main officers — including Whitley UNITE Chair Angie Bowling, Vice-Chair Adam Sulfridge and Secretary Wayne Brooks — listening to Goins.
After Goins spoke, Sulfridge mentioned the local UNITE group was into early discussion about implementing a “court watch” system, adding, “If there are any flaws in the court system, we’d like to change them. We want to hold people accountable.”
Earlier in the meeting, Brooks said a three-hour session called “PAR” (People Advocating Recovery) would be held in Williamsburg this fall. He noted PAR is a faith-based recovery program that uses counseling, and would feature former Lexington and Louisville TV news anchor Mike Barry as a speaker. Brooks called the program “an example of what faith-based groups in Whitley County can do to help in the fight against drugs.”
“We want to do everything we can to keep drugs out of our schools and our communities,” he said.
In other news from the meeting, a “Shoot Hoops, Not Drugs” basketball event featuring former UK Wildcat Jeff Sheppard would be held June 19 from 4-7 p.m. at Boston Elementary School. Also, “Camp UNITE” will take place July 23-27 at the University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg. Local UNITE officials said donations of clothes, toiletries and bedding were needed for the camp, as well as three male counselors. More information can be obtained by calling UNITE headquarters in Somerset at 1-866-678-6483.