St. Johnsbury residents discuss needle exchange

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(Host) Saint Johnsbury held a second community forum Wednesday night to discuss the Vermont CARES needle exchange program. The first forum in August elicited emotional reactions in the debate over whether the needle exchange program should continue.

Paul Bengston is chairman of the Community Health Advisory Committee, which was created by Saint Johnsbury’s select board to help the town discuss the issue. Bengston says Wednesday night’s meeting was well attended, and informative:

(Bengston) “There were people with all different types of perspectives on the needle exchange program. And, there was what I’d consider a very good community discussion about this program. People were very fair in terms of giving each other time to express their opinions. I think there was a lot of excellent listening going on [Wednesday] night. And I think people came in with some pretty hardened positions, but people were also listening and learning, which was good.”

(Host) Health Commissioner Jan Carney will decide in the next week or so whether to rescind the permit that allows Vermont CARES to operate a needle exchange program in Saint Johnsbury.

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