MIDDLETOWN, Ohio – The Middletown city manager called for compassion after an article about a potential halfway house drew vitriolic comments online.
When WCPO news partner the Journal-News ran its story about preliminary plans to convert the former fire station on Tytus Avenue into a halfway house for recovering addicts after they leave rehab programs, some of the comments on their website weren’t shy to share their thoughts.
“Let the idiots die that make the choice to shove heroin in themselves,” one person wrote.
Another person suggested a row of nooses on Donham Square for hanging “the dopers and pushers” in a typo-ridden post.
Middletown City Manager Douglas Adkins came back with a blog post of his own rebuffing the comments.
“Some people get addicted to heroin with only one use of the drug,” Adkins wrote. “Would you condemn your son or daughter to death later in a car accident because they 'chose' not to wear their seat belt one time? Does someone really deserve to die for one incredibly stupid mistake in judgment?”
Middletown Health Commissioner Jackie Phillips said she appreciated Adkins’ bold response to the criticism. She said she thought the aggressive commenters were making it “an us or them” issue.
“We should not be quick to judge,” Phillips said. “It’s OK to be concerned – try to not go to the fear side – but it’s OK to be concerned and then find out all that you can about it before you place the judgment.”
The preliminary proposal would be for the city to lease the building to Community Behavioral Health, which would operate the halfway house, according to the Journal-News.
However, some neighbors said they’re not excited about the idea of a halfway house in their neighborhood.
“People do need help, but I think there is a better selection like churches downtown, down by Central [Avenue] and all the other communities that are set up for that type of thing,” Aaron Welch said.