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Cause of Death

A great title for our Presidential candidates and their campaigns, I’m so glad the primary season is coming to an end. However, it’s more about the second part of my story.

It’s time to get out and vote. It doesn’t matter if you vote for Mr. Donald “Open Mouth Insert Foot” Trump, Ms. Hillary “Prison Stripes are Presidential” Clinton or Ted “Why Doesn’t Anyone Like Me” Cruz. Maybe Colonel Bernie Sanders fits your Presidential taste. I almost forgot Mr. John Kasich, just like 90 percent of the voters have. What a great group of candidates. The important thing is to get out and exercise the right so many people around the world wish they had. Take pride in yourself, your country, and honor all who have fought so you and I can partake in that most simple act. Think of all that have spilled blood or given their life to create this most sacred act of democracy.

The defense of our freedom never ends, the preservation of our freedom is created by “We the People” making sure our voices are heard and the individuals elected are for the good of God and our great Nation.

In regards to my column last week – “Who is the Fourth County Commissioner Anyways” two comments rang through from most who reached out to me. First, most of you, like me, did not realize our County has a County Director of Administration/Chief Clerk and he’s knocking down 100 grand a year. And second, get rid of the position. Almost all who I spoke with think we have a good team of commissioners but feel they along with the department heads and support staff can handle County affairs efficiently. And as always thank you and I enjoy hearing from you.

I should mention a couple folks did also take umbrage with my statement of belief that $70,000 was not enough pay for the position of County Commissioner. Let me widen my point, if approached as a full-time job and given the time needed to do the job right, 70 grand is not enough for the responsibility and devotion needed for the position. The seat of County Commissioner has more effect on our daily life and wallet than any other elected official.

On to County Coroner Charles Kiessling. As I read through his bio and information I collected, one thing rang true. He is an extremely qualified, caring, good man who has dedicated himself to the citizens of Lycoming County.

He is a lifetime Lycoming County guy who unfortunately we don’t get to see, read about or hear his message unless it is about death or the prevention of tragedy.
Mr. Kiessling graduated from the Williamsport School of Nursing and he recieved a Bachelor of Science in nursing degree from Lycoming College. He had a 21-year career in the emergency room at Williamsport Hospital. He serves part time in the Geisinger Life Flight program. He was our deputy coroner for 12 years. Mr. Kiessling has been our County Coroner since January 2000. He is the President of the PA State Coroners Association. I’ll stop there; his credentials just keep going on and on.
He has spent more time on education and prevention in regards to infants, children and teenagers than probably any coroner in state history.

Charles Kiessling deals with death and the prevention of death literally 24 hours a day. “We the People” elected him and continue to reelect him for the job he does and going beyond what the job description requires.

So here’s the issue as simple as I can make it. Coroner Kiessling is tired of the death and destruction he sees on a daily basis being caused by heroin. He sees the problem only getting worse and wants to take it on – head on. He believes any death as a result of an overdose should be declared a homicide. A homicide is the death of a person at the hands of another. Mr. Kiessling’s reasoning is that a drug dealer delivered the illegal substance that resulted in the cause of death. Simply put – no drug dealer, no heroin, no OD, the person is still alive.

I am not going to pass judgment if Mr. Kiessling is right, wrong or indifferent. In taking this path of action he did spark controversy. This article is not about me stepping into this negativity trap, which takes the focal point off the problem. To me the publicity and attention this measure has gotten can only bring awareness to how large and lethal the heroin problem is. If one life, one overdose, or one person sticking a needle in their arm is prevented by Mr. Kiessling’s action it was a blessing to a family who will never know about the death sentence heroin is.

I trust and support Mr. Kiessling’s judgment based upon his 35 years of experience. In a world driven by the evil of political motivation Mr. Kiessling’s only concern is the citizens he serves and making a difference. If he is right or if he is wrong doesn’t matter to me. He is trying to change the increasing number of heroin-induced deaths in our communities.

We as a society must stop making excuses for the actions and choices people make. You choose heroin, you choose to take whatever action to support your heroin addiction. It is truly an American tragedy, affecting folks from every walk of life. It breaks my heart for the innocent families and friends of the addicted but again; it is their free will and choice.

As for the drug dealer, the criminal element that peddles this poison. They prey on the addicted in the name of monetary gain or to support their own habit. They don’t however physically make an individual stick a needle in their arm or take this drug by whatever means possible. Are they guilty of homicide? What a tough issue, I’ll let you be the judge.

God Help and Bless America.

Jim Webb

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