Commissioners vote to end Aberdeen’s syringe exchange

The Grays Harbor County Commissioners voted 2 to 1 Tuesday in favor of ending a county-funded syringe exchange program in Aberdeen on June 30.

Commissioner Wes Cormier, who suggested the resolution to discontinue the program, said he felt it wasn’t the county’s role to provide the service.

Operated by the county’s public health department, the exchange allows those using syringes, often for heroin and other drugs, to exchange used needles for new ones. The service takes place at a converted recreational vehicle under the Chehalis River Bridge near downtown. The idea of the exchange is that people can better avoid diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis C if they don’t have to reuse needles that become contaminated.

Randy Ross, who was the lone vote against the resolution, wanted to amend it so that two public meetings could be held by the county between now and June 30 to address the future of the program. Cormier and Commissioner Vickie Raines voted against having those meetings.

Raines said while she agrees with Cormier that the county shouldn’t be administering this service, she’s concerned that there will be a much higher number of dirty needles found lying around in parks and elsewhere in town because the RV provided a safe place to dispose of them in bulk.

The commissioners added that if some outside agency wants to continue the program, they will be able to do so.