Good morning Columbus. What you need to know — Opioids in Bartholomew County; Cierra on the ‘Today’ show; Super Saturday; student press freedoms

Good morning Columbus —

Opioids: Addicted and Dying

In Bartholomew County, we’re increasingly addicted and dying.

Syringes are littering some of the parks where your kids may play. Petty thefts have been on the rise in homes, perhaps in your neighborhood.

Ambulances are rushing down the street to assist another overdose victim, where medics meet up with local police officers who are already administering multiple doses of an antidote that can revive people overdosing on drugs who are barely breathing.

The local hospital is setting up a makeshift area for the babies who are born with addictions.

Tormented families are desperately trying to get help for sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers. In many cases, they plan funerals instead.

The numbers are grim.

  • Bartholomew County recorded more than 700 reports of possible overdoses in 2017, a 40 percent increase from the year before.
  • Fatal drug overdoses in Bartholomew County climbed 150 percent in 2017.

The Republic is taking a yearlong look into the public health crisis that touches nearly every segment of our community and that crosses all socioeconomic lines.

Addicted & Dying will tell the harrowing stories of people with drug addictions and families who have lost loved ones.

We will talk to doctors, addiction specialists, law enforcement officers and others on the front lines battling a problem that is ruining lives and putting mounting pressures on social service agencies, hospitals, the judicial system and the economy.

Beyond that, we will explore solutions and a path forward — what treatments and approaches work, what communities can do and how to help people in need.

Our project starts Sunday exploring two important issues that experts say are crucial in efforts to reverse the abuse. One is the stigma and social isolation surrounding addiction. The other is looking at addiction as a brain disease not a moral failing.

Here’s what else you need to know —

Dance of joy: Rockcreek fifth-grader on ‘Today’ Show
Cierra McCauley of Elizabethtown has inspired us ever since she shared her story about battling Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Now, after an appearance on national TV this morning, lots of people know about how she’s helping others with her #DancerBeatingCancer  movement. The GIF below shows her meeting singer Meghan Trainor. Click here for Cierra’s story.

Super Bowl’s got nothing on our very own Super Saturday.
Will the Southside Mustangs (boys and girls) defend their titles? Columbus East High School is the site of this weekend’s Elementary Basketball League basketball and cheerleading championships. Details here.

Rubble is visible in the aftermath of a fire that destroyed Carpet Mania and DeathProof CrossFit at 10th Street and Michigan Avenue in Columbus, Ind., Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018. The four alarm fire occurred Wednesday afternoon. Mike Wolanin | The Republic

The aftermath of the big fire: A big number.
The estimate of all the damage from a fire in Columbus earlier this week is a whopper: $2 million. What about the cause? Find out what authorities are saying here.

Columbus North principal backs press freedom for students.
David Clark and dozens of student from through the state were at the Statehouse Thursday to testify about a bill that would protect press freedom for student journalists. The bill’s author Rep. Ed Clere, R-New Albany, said of the proposal:

“All this does is help ensure when students and teachers play by the rules, important speech will not be censored just because it makes government officials uncomfortable because of the
information or topics presented.”

The bill passed out of committee by a 9-2 vote.

Designing duo: The mayor and the architecture dean.
Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop and Peg Faimon, founding dean of IU School of Art, Architecture and Design, have penned a column that asks and answers: What should cities like Columbus become in the 21st century and how can new approaches and partnerships bring them renewed and continuing vibrancy and innovation? Sunday’s Republic.

Our sports team is on the road tonight for boys basketball.
It’s Columbus East at East Central and Columbus North at Southport.

Have a terrific weekend!

Author photo
Scarlett Syse is group editor of The Republic. Contact her at ssyse@therepublic.com.