You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myPalmBeachPost.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myPalmBeachPost.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myPalmBeachPost.com.

Heroin crisis in Wellington? Mayor refuses to sign letter to Scott


Mayor Anne Gerwig refused to sign a letter backed by the rest of the village council to ask the governor to declare a health emergency over heroin overdose deaths.

While acknowledging the problem sweeping the county and nation, Gerwig drew the line at Wellington, saying the letter may give the wrong impression about overdoses in the village of 60,000.

READ: The Palm Beach’s Post’s special investigation into the heroin epidemic

“It’s horrible, and it does happen in Wellington. We all know that,” she said. “But associating ourselves with an opioid crisis should be handled pretty carefully.”

The four other council members signed the letter, which said the national heroin death toll is “now comparable to AIDS deaths in the 1990s.”

The letter arrived on Scott’s desk weeks after similar requests from Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay — whose district includes Wellington — and the Martin County Commission.

READ: Wellington’s letter

“I think it is just trying to bring into focus that this is a crisis,” Councilwoman Tanya Siskind said Monday at a meeting. “It’s not a particularly huge crisis here in Wellington but it just made us part of that voice.”

The letters from McKinlay and Martin County were prompted in part by reporting on the epidemic by The Palm Beach Post, which devoted a front page in November to a collage of faces of 216 people who died of heroin-related overdoses in Palm Beach County in 2015.

The Palm Beach County Medical Examiner’s office has said more than 500 people died of overdoses of all types in the county in 2016.

“This is a problem that is touching our community, and we cannot bury our heads in the sand,” Wellington Vice Mayor John McGovern said. “We have to be vigilant and we have to demand that our fellow elected officials up the chain of government are equally vigilant.”

READ: An epidemic hidden in shame

The number of overdose calls in Wellington increased from 68 in 2015 to 104 in 2016. Not all those calls were for opioid overdoses, but Palm Beach County Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Michael Arena said opioids likely were the main reason for the increase.

The village responded to more calls overall, with overdose calls accounting for about 17 percent of the increase.

But Gerwig said that based on conversations she has had with local emergency response officials, the consensus has been that opioids have not reached a “crisis” level in Wellington yet.

Village Manager Paul Schofield adapted the Wellington letter from McKinlay’s, which cited larger numbers that Gerwig said give a false picture of how bad it is in Wellington.

READ: What is addiction? Why some can’t give it up, others can walk away

Even if she didn’t agree with the exact wording, Gerwig said she would have signed the letter if it had been discussed in public and the majority of the council had voted to approve the language. But council members wanted the letter quickly so they could show it to legislators last week during Palm Beach County Day in Tallahassee.

Gerwig also sits on the board of the Palm Beach County League of Cities and she said she would be much more open to signing a letter on behalf of that board.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Movie producer and famed architect could team for ‘tent site’ project
Movie producer and famed architect could team for ‘tent site’ project

The city’s most prominent gateway location for development — the ‘tent site’ at Okeechobee Boulevard and South Dixie Highway — is once again a glint in developers’ eyes, despite the fact West Palm has held off on offering up the property while consultants figure out how to fix downtown’s worsening traffic....
For former Palm Beacher Linda Cooney a new trial in Las Vegas
For former Palm Beacher Linda Cooney a new trial in Las Vegas

The Nevada Supreme Court has overturned the attempted-murder conviction of former Palm Beacher Linda Cooney, finding the Las Vegas jury that convicted her of shooting her son in 2011 should not have been told that she had been charged — and acquitted — of shooting her ex-husband in Juno Beach in 1992. In a five-page ruling handed down on...
PBC school choice acceptance emails go out Friday
PBC school choice acceptance emails go out Friday

The prized tickets into Palm Beach County’s school choice programs will go out via email Friday, April 1 beginning at 4 p.m. About 21,000 students applied for those seats, and just over half of them will land a seat in their first or second choice. The district has more than 300 programs in its elementary, middle and high schools and only 11...
Spanish River High theater students bring ‘Rock of Ages’ to stage
Spanish River High theater students bring ‘Rock of Ages’ to stage

SPANISH RIVER HIGH The Theater Arts Department presents “Rock of Ages” at 7 p.m. April 21 and 22, with a 2 p.m. show on April 23. For information or to buy tickets, visit www.spanishrivertheater.org CHRISTA MCAULIFFE MIDDLE The Chorus will present a spring musical program at 6 p.m. today at the school, 6500 Le Chalet Blvd., Boynton Beach...
Man cooking turkey in charcoal pit accuses HOA board member of assault

PALM BEACH GARDENS POLICE THEFT After chatting with a security officer, a man walked over to a nearby sunglasses display rack, selected two pairs and strolled out of the store in the 3100 block of PGA Boulevard. A review of the shopping center’s surveillance showed the man exiting the facility, getting into a car and driving away. Though the...
More Stories