Alligator Jackson's Inside Huntington Facebook page has over 22,000 followers.  This page is an extra part to that...kind of like a bonus page for followers of that page.  It will have stories and opinions that are more controversial.  Although you are free to share, many of these will not appear on Alligator Jackson's Inside Huntington page.

Is Huntington really that dangerous? 

A Huntington blogger recently wrote a blog entitled Huntington, WV: One of the most dangerous cities in the nation?  He presented stats from neighborhoodscout.com that lists Huntington as a 3 out of 100 in safety index with 3 obviously being one of the lowest possible scores.

Okay, I know this is per capita....per capita is one of those fancy little statistic terms that allows you to spin numbers almost any way you want.....BUT this article is almost entirely out of context....it is almost spun to give Huntington a blackeye...maybe not intentionally Huntington, but certainly the current administration.

 

Huntington is listed as 78.  This does not make it one of the MOST dangerous.....in fact....Charleston, WV is 39.  These are 2018 numbers when Huntington was mired in a turf war and there was a temporary spike in drug-related murders.  The main thing about this is it was not random crime.  Basically, the only way you were going to be murdered was if you were dealing in illegal drug trade.

 

Huntington was also listed as most dangerous than 80 Atlanta?  Again, out of context because the per capita throws it out of whack.  There are many safe parts of Atlanta that makes up overall for the bad part....but if anyone thinks for a moment that there are not bad parts of Atlanta that makes the worse of Huntington seem like an amusement park...then they do not get out enough.

 

My family is from East St.  Louis....I have been through there many times.  There are complete neighborhoods of burned out buildings.  There are gangs roaming the streets.  My friend Steve and I drove my convertible through blocks and blocks of hostile neighborhoods of Detroit before we wisely pulled over and put my top up.  I have seen neighborhoods in Cincinnati, New York, and Indianapolis that I would not walk down the street by myself at night to win a bet.

 

AJ Dawg and I routinely roam the streets of Downtown Huntington at all hours without incident.  I lived on Marshall Avenue and my car was broke down and I walked through the Fairfield District and Hal Greer at all different hours without incident.

 

In fact, walk through McDaniel Street or Mary Street in Atlanta, West Center City in Wilmington, Delaware, or North Monroe Street in Baltimore and then down Hal Greer or Madison in Huntington...and then tell me how dangerous Huntington is. 

 

The thing is though....the perception that Huntington is one of the most dangerous cities in America will keep people from moving here or tourists from coming or even shoppers from Ohio or Kentucky from coming.  The fact is there is very little random crime in Huntington.  Crime is up because people leave their car doors unlocked.  There is an increase in crime but we were ground zero of the drug epidemic....with the key word being WERE.

 

Huntington went through some bad times....we learned some hard lessons.  There is recovery in Huntington.  You are very unlikely to get robbed at The Huntington Mall or stabbed at Pullman Square as opposed to shopping in many cities.  Many towns our size or smaller such as Cumberland, Md or Chillicothe, Ohio are suffering an increase in crime due to the drug epidemic. 

 

Come on, people....YES....we must continue to spread recovery across Huntington and make our city safer.  NO....Huntington is not as dangerous as cities where gangs rule the street and to continue the charade that our city is as dangerous as Chicago or St. Louis is a serious misjustice to the good citizens of our community and quite probably an intended political hit job as well as a ludicrous exaggeration.

 

Here are some pictures I found of East St.  Louis.  I have been there many times but do not have the courage to hold a camera up.  By the way, Neighborhoodscout.com rates East St. Louis, the murder capital of the US by capita as a 5....which makes it safer than Huntington!

 

West End Drug Bust 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE DATE: February 18, 2019 CONTACT: Chief Dial HUNTINGTON – Six people were arrested on drug-related charges Monday, Feb. 19, following the execution of a search warrant in the 1600 block of Madison Avenue. The warrant was obtained partly due to calls to the Huntington Police Department’s anonymous tip line (304-696-4444) and information given to drug detectives. Upon entry to the home, detectives with HPD’s Special Investigations Bureau initially detained 13 people. Six people were arrested. Arrested were: Tracey Gibson, 63, of 1608 Madison Ave. Gibson was charged with maintaining a dwelling for drug sales. Tosha D. Slone, 36, of 1608 Madison Ave. Slone was charged with maintaining a dwelling for drug sales. Kelly P. Gothard, 58, of 1608 Madison Ave. Gothard was charged with maintaining a dwelling for drug sales. Steven W. Stewart II, 37, of 1608 Madison Ave. Stewart was charged with felony burglary and maintaining a dwelling for drug sales. Quentin Lamanote-Termaine White Jr., 23, of Westland, Michigan. White was charged with felony conspiracy to sell drugs and felony possession with the intent to deliver. Jemel McClinton, 19, of Detroit. McClinton was charged with felony conspiracy to sell drugs and felony possession with the intent to deliver. Detectives recovered approximately 25 grams of suspected heroin, black tar heroin, crack cocaine, marijuana, cash, scales and paraphernalia used to package and sell drugs. During the entry to the residence, detectives noticed a strong odor of natural gas. The Huntington Fire Department was notified for testing and to disable the gas service to the residence. The Public Works Department was also called to the scene to issue a do not occupy order because of the gas leak and unsanitary living conditions. Animal control was also notified to take possession of a cat.

Watching The Huntington City Watch Mess 

I have received several emails and messages concerning the mess at the Huntington City Watch Facebook Page.  I have waited a few days to see if Norm Miller would respond to allegations that funds his site collected never made it to their intended destinations.

Norm Miller and I worked on a Real Huntington video YouTube show.  We discussed Huntington and social media a great deal.  We never discussed using it to make money.  Norm quit helping me and started his own Facebook page - Huntington City Watch.  Although, I read it like everyone else...I was never involved with the site and very rarely posted on it.  Norm seemed genuinely concerned about Huntington in the dealings and conversations I had with him.

I believe there is a proper way to handle any allegations made against him and I do not agree with the witch hunt this has turned into.  I believe local law enforcement should check into it and if he violated any laws then charges should be brought against him.  I think he is getting slaughtered in the court of public opinion.  The only problem is that this court is not always fact based like a regular court.  I am saddened because he has a family including children that may get harassed because of rumors....but I do believe he has had time and the platform - Huntington City Watch - to clear up any misunderstandings or answer any allegations. 

My red flags came up when he started collecting money and giving away things.  I believe the site also crossed some lines when it became too political.  I, myself, have never asked for money on my site.  I have posted other people's GoFundMe accounts because many of the readers of this site do like to help.  I have never believed that a site should collect money.  I would never collect money in my name.  While one of the goals of my site is to help charities and the people in need....I think it is suspicious when the money passes through a website's hands.  I was concerned when Huntington City Watch began doing this but voicing my concerns would have meant that I looked jealous that his site was doing so well.

I would always advise citizens to be careful who they donate money to.  It is great to help but make sure that the people that you want to receive it have some kind of access to it or that the organization is a reputable charity with a license to handle money for those in need.

In the end, I hope we can learn from this.  I hope websites and Facebook groups can realize that there are being watched and realize that they can be held responsible for crossing any lines and I hope followers will be more cautious in their dealings with social media groups and pages.

I also felt that Huntington City Watch had a mob mentality and it scares me at times.  It scares me even more watching the mob turn on its' former leader.  This has all been a sad lesson in human nature......

Bruce Springsteen once said to an intro to a song he performed in concert....."Be careful who you follow.  Blind faith in anyone to day can get you killed."  I, as Alligator Jackson, try to get news out to people and I try to  entertain everyone.  It is not my intentions to be a leader or only view on a subject.  I believe in this day and age that our news is so politically slanted that we often need to look at stories and issues from all angles and perspectives.  Please be as informed as possible on all issues and gather information from different sources and ultimately come to your own conclusion....please just do not follow someone's every thought and idea.  

 

Huntington City Watch's mob mentality was fueled by much angst but it has all evolved into a big train wreck.

 

Big thanks to Recovery Point 

I want to thank Recovery Point in Charleston and Drug Court. Bre has been in my life since she was born. My mom and dad treated her like their granddaughter and she has been the closest thing I have had to a child. Her life was spiraling out of control. Drug court gave her a second chance. She was down to 99 pounds. She is up to 130. They have her smiling and happy again. I went to see her tonight and it brought tears of joy to my eyes. She is in a 9 and a half month program. I can't wait to see how she comes out. Recovery Point is not only saving lives but making those lives worth living.

Will rehabbing addicted offenders alter criminal behavior? 

I was at the magistrate court today and witnessed how the drug epidemic is affecting crime and sentencing.  It is hard to tell  at first glance how the results of these cases will turn out, because only time will tell the true results.

 

There was a habitual criminal with at least thirty priors and at least one violent crime conviction that was charged with breaking and entering.  The lawyer first told the man it looked like he would have a choice between a one to ten in jail or a year in rehab.  The man was not very happy with the choice.  He claimed innocence and did not feel like rehab was a viable choice to him.  Now in his late thirties, he said he had been in places, mainly jail since he was 24.  He did not see how rehab would suddenly help him now.  He has never been in a rehab.

Suddenly, he received the news that he would have a choice between 28 days at Prestera and a year in jail.  Of course, he signed up with 28 days at Prestera.  I am mixed here.  I feel positive because this man has battled substance abuse for most of his adult life... BUT he has never been treated for chemical dependence.  It would be wonderful if this has been what he needed all along.  If his sudden exposure to recovery can help him then his life will be a lot better and the community a lot safer. BUT if he does not take it seriously then he will be back to his old habits in about a month.  True, in the long run he will be the one dealing with the consequences….BUT what about the community who has him back on the streets with the strong possibility he will continue his lawbreaking ways? 

 

Another case saw a 27 year-old girl who has struggled with addiction since her teen years.  She has never been  arrested for a felony but does have a few drug related misdemeanors.  Her felony appearance is for transferring and receiving stolen goods.  She tried to pawn an item that she claims she was not aware that it had been stolen.  There seems to be a possibility that the case goes deeper. There is a possibility that she has ties to a string of car break-ins downtown, although she denies this and denies that she has problems with addiction.... although she has prior drug-related arrests and four previous stays in rehabs the last five years in which she signed herself out after a few days.  The evidence that she is involved with this is not strong enough to convict her.

She received and accepted a plea bargain to enter a 9 month addiction program at Recovery Point in Charleston.  This is a good chance for her to get a second chance.  She has not held a regular job but perhaps after a 9 month stay at rehab she may finally conquer her addictions and live a normal live

 

Drug court and sentencing like this can help drug addicts break the chains of addiction and pull their lives out of the ashes.  I really would have felt more positive if the man charged with breaking and entering would have been given at least a 90 day stay.  A 28 day stay to break so many years of addiction does not seem like enough.

 

Our jails and prisons are quite full and it has been proven that addicts are not getting treatment for their addictions while in jail.  Many are returning to the streets and returning to drug use.  It is one of society's few hopes that if we are to ever make our streets safer we must treat our criminals addictions and reduce the likelihood that they will return to jail.  If we do not attempt to alter the behavior that lead these people to jail, then we can only expect to see that behavior continue.

 

I spoke with a magistrate who says he has seen positive results.  He speaks how one man changed his life and went out of his way to return to the courthouse and thank him for receiving the chance to better his life.  I know both of the people involved in today's cases.  It is easy for me to say that the man charged with breaking and entering will be in trouble soon.  I say that because I know his past.  BUT is it fair for me to say that?  Will our society not be a better place if we can give people who have made mistakes and corrected their behaviors.  Does he not deserve a chance at recovery and a good life just because he has multiple infractions?  These are the type of questions our judicial system must study and answer.  It is answers to questions like these that will determine how safe our society is in the next decade and if we can defeat the drug epidemic.

 

Many of our communities have come to conclusion since the start of the drug epidemic that we can not arrest ourselves out of the drug epidemic.  It is imperative that addicted criminals receive either stays in rehab or extensive recovery while in jail or prison.  Just being away from the drugs does not give them the coping skills to stay away from drugs once they return to the streets.  They need to understand there only addictions so they can help break the chain of those addictions.  Without giving these people the training or chance at skill development in these areas, we are setting them up for future failures.

It is obvious that the drug epidemic does not offer any easy solutions.  We have to try to step out of the box and try solutions that may not have sounded practical a couple of decades ago.  We have started down the road of treating the epidemic as a social problem or mental illness and I think we must continue down that road....but we must keep a good record of the cases and research the results so that we can possible come back and tinker with the new system in a few years.

Good actions from the alley 

A homeless person I know from the alley that I saw when I was walking home from work told me she was digging in a dumpster behind the Herald Dispatch. A man came up in the alley and asked her if she had eaten today. She said no. He gave her ten dollars and told her to get a sandwich. She got to eat today because of his kindness. I love Huntington.

Hard to be a nice guy sometimes 

Sometimes it gets frustrating to try do the right thing but life makes you an asshole sometimes.  With the dropping temperatures I tried to do the right thing even though I knew what would happen.  I let a few of the homeless people that I know well in out of the alley for a while.

 

It is hard for me to try to be a good person when you know people are freezing.  But...guess what?  I got a phone and a few other things stolen.  So it looks like sometimes you just have to be an asshole.  The Huntington City Mission does a good job helping the homeless and so does Harmony House.  Sometimes it is safer and still the right thing to do to donate to those fine places instead of getting directly involved and perhaps putting yourself in danger by helping people yourself.

Is The West End Pedestrian Tunnel Needed? 

Picture taken from Facebook, fenced off yesterday

 

 

The West End Pedestrian Tunnel is back in the news.  Councilwoman Tina Brooks recently sent me some pictures of the tunnel on one of her visits.  I posted the pictures on my Alligator Jackson's Inside Huntington Facebook page with my opinion that the tunnel should be closed down....and the firestorm soon started.

In the Summer of 2017, Dwayne Woods, the Heroin Hearse owner, visited the tunnel and pulled dozens of needles from the tunnel.  This inspired local resident Todd Sweeney to organize a cleanup and painting of the tunnel.

 

Tunnel pre-cleanup August 2017

Hard work done by Todd and the his volunteers August 2017

The clean tunnel thanks to Todd Sweeney and his volunteers August 2017

 

Todd rounded up a group of hard working volunteers who worked hard on a couple of hot summer days.  The result was a total transformation.  There were also donations of supplies, paint, and refreshments from several citizens and businesses.  Councilwoman Tina Brooks was thrilled with the interest by the volunteers and donated $100 for paint.

The cleaning of the tunnel was symbolic for the city reeling in the heart of a drug epidemic.  At a time in which HBO was calling Huntington "The Heroin Capital of The US."....Citizens were springing forward to show they wanted to help.  

In late September 2017, the city closed down the tunnel anyway.  According to an interview in The Herald-Dispatch, Public Works Director Jim 

Insco said the tunnel is being closed due to a number of safety concerns that have been brought to the attention of city officials. 

"We've found some needles and also some folks that have businesses in the area say their customers were being approached by folks coming out of the pedestrian tunnel," he said."

 

WSAZ reported , https://www.wsaz.com/content/news/Neighbors-want-to-keep-underground-walkway-open--448095643.html, that "Dwayne Woods is asking the city for six months to see if their cleanup effort has a lasting impact before the decision to close it becomes final."

The city kept it open.  There was not any more talk about the tunnel until Tina Brooks dropped by.  Tina Brooks said after her visit,  "I was concerned that the people who promised to keep the tunnel safe were not going to follow up on their promises. I want it closed. The tunnel is not safe."

 

I wrote posts about my support to have it closed.  My main reason is because of the safety issue and the liability faced by the city.  The city did not even know that it existed until the cleanup.  Then, they wanted it closed because of the possibility of something tragic happening.  The city cannot have it regularly patrolled.  Dwayne Woods used to live close and checked up on it on his way home but he has since moved out of Huntington.  The new pictures show that someone is using the tunnel for other activities.

My point is that if someone innocent uses the tunnel and comes across someone doing illegal activities, they can be robbed, raped, or possibly killed.  With the city now acknowledging that the place exists and knowing it was previously used for drug activity, they could be liable if someone does get hurt.

 

I immediately heard from residents who claim they were using the tunnel.  I wondered why if they saw the new damage why they did not report it....perhaps it could have been cleaned.  But, when the city found out through one of their council members, it looked like no one even knew about the trash sand graffiti so it is not being monitored that close.

 

It looks like now the city is closing it.  I think their should be a public discussion and hearing first.  Many people claim they are using it.  I am not sure how useful it is.  The viaducts are spaced apart and there isn't any other tunnels built like this and those people on other streets manage to get by without crossing tracks.  But, I would hate to see it closed if people are using it.  There needs to be discussion about ways to keep it open while keeping it safe.

The tunnel was originally used to make sure Owens Illinois employees crossed the tracks safely.  The question is that now that Owens is long closed, how much traffic goes through there.

 

There are a lot of hurt feels.  I in no way meant to make Todd or anyone else's hard work look not important.  Things have changed in Huntington.  We see that abandoned houses, The Flats, and basically any unattended structures become structures used for drugs.  The volunteers did a great job in restoring the tunnel...but it has been shown that unless there is regular monitoring or patrolling, that the tunnel will eventually go back to the way it was because people will use it for illegal activity.  It is very much a shame.

I do think we do need to find out how much it is needed and have a discussion on what needs to be done but I do not think nostalgia or gratefulness that someone cleaned it should be considered.... it should come down to what are the safety risks and how much is it actually being used.