WYOMING COUNTY, WV (WVNS) — Dozens of concerned citizens and business owners went to a town hall meeting in Oceana Thursday, April 8, 2021, to voice their concerns regarding the growing problem of both homeless people, and drug abusers in their town.
Many said their very presence is bad for their business or peace of mind.
“I am having issues with people hanging out underneath my patio porch near my heat pumps and so forth and I have never had these issues,” said Tyan Lester, the owner of Professional Sleep Lab.
People shared story after story of damaged property, not feeling safe after dark, getting verbally or physically threatened. The one common theme: the demand for something to be done about the problem.
Some of those in attendance were concerned that having multiple rehabilitation centers within miles of each other is the source of the problem. Others believe it is due to lack of action from local law enforcement.
Mike Cochran, the prosecuting attorney in the county, said he knows this is not a small problem, but there is something anyone can do to help chip away at it.
“Call 9-1-1 immediately and that goes for really any citizen in this county, and any citizen really in this country. If you see a crime being committed, or you see something that’s wrong, always work with law enforcement and call 9-1-1,” said Cochran.
There was no shortage of passionate people at the town hall.
By the end, Cochran believed the only to way to fight the problem is to stop fighting each other, and work towards a solution together.
“I think it was a very good response by the public and hopefully it will alleviate some of the problems we have been seeing,” said Cochran.
The citizens of Oceana made sure their local government knew their demand for change still stands.
“Something has to be done, I mean people’s safety, you have people laying out in front of businesses, laying out under patios. You have the safety of children, the safety of women coming out of boutiques and so forth, something just has to be done,” said Lester.
Both local government and those who live in Oceana said they know this is not a problem they can quickly solve. They said they have faced situations like this before, and they are prepared to keep fighting.