Morgantown looks for solutions to discarded needles in public spaces

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A program involving the disposal of used needles around Morgantown is moving forward.

During Morgantown City Council’s committee of the whole Tuesday, a proposal involving needle disposing containers which can be placed in various parts of the city, was moved towards the agenda for their next regular meeting. Health Right Director Laura Jones says this a great first step towards a better Morgantown.

“I’m very pleased, I think they’re willing to consider and vote on it, and I think we’ll work out the locations we need,” said Jones.

What are being called Sharp Containers, these units would be placed in areas of concern, giving would be injectable drug users the opportunity to dispose needles after they are finished. These containers, would be locked in place and then cleaned out by a Health Right representative so that the risk of a bystandered getting stabbed by a dirty needle are significantly less. For council, the risk reward was to easy to not consider.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said Morgantown City Councilman Dave Harshbarger. “I think that, it’s happening, we’re finding them in parks and on the streets, in garbage, I think it would be helpful to put them in places where needles are commonly found,” he said.

Unfortunately for Morgantown, one crisis that is considered as dyer as the prevailing homeless issue is the drug crisis involving opioids and other hard, injectable, substances. These concerns were expanded, when several business owners spoke out during council’s regular meeting explaining some unruly behavior that affected their day to day work. The hope is that with the disposal units, the chances of seeing syringes and the drug addled in Downtown Morgantown drops significantly.

“I think under one of the bridges, in particular, is a place where people are living, so that’s one good place,” said Jones thinking of places the Sharp Containers could go. “There are some other spots that aren’t directly on the Rail Trail but are slightly off the Rail Trail,” she said.

If implemented, Morgantown will not be the only city in this state to be placing Sharp Containers within their city limits. In Huntington and Charleston, similar containers were placed at nearby medical facilities after concerns over similar lose syringes in and around the area. For Health Right and for council, it’s a worthy try to fight a very serious problem.

“I think that other cities are doing it in West Virginia, we should start allowing it too,” said Harshbarger.