Some 11-years ago, 10 year-old Katie Coleman was abducted and killed. In the beginning, it was believed (because someone falsely confessed), that the forth-grader was murdered because she witnessed drug activity and/or a meth lab. Although later found to be untrue, in the interim — when that’s what was in the news nationally — the Scott County communities of Austin and Scottsburg rallied to Crothersville’s aid.
In 2004, obtaining a high-speed Internet connectivity account was a struggle for smaller rural areas. Nothing like now… the options were slim to none. When the City of Scottsburg got a grant and began providing wireless high-speed Internet services outside their county, I was their first customer/beta tester in Crothersville. So when the FBI set-up shop in the local fire department to find Katie (and later investigate who murdered her), I was called to help them acquire immediate Internet connectivity. I made one call and the bucket truck rolled in within the hour… providing the service at no cost to our town or the FBI. (Now I’m not saying there were NEVER charges… but I do know they came within an hour of my calling and didn’t ask for payment.)
Also in the interim… before anyone knew anything about Anthony Stockleman… I was asked to speak at the Scott County ‘Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast,’ along with my good friend and local funeral home owner/director and the Jackson County Prosecutor (who would later prosecute Katie’s killer). The overall theme and tone of this event was (again, it was still believed Katie’s death was drug related) ‘we are ONE community standing together to fight the horrible meth epidemic plaguing our area.’
I wrote all the blah blah blah above because it’s stuck in my head for over 10 years. I remember the Mayor of Scottsburg (who was also a speaker on the program I mention above) reminding the audience that there isn’t a grand wall or deep ravine dividing Austin and Crothersville. And he was right. When a little girl went missing and it was thought drugs were the primary reason, the communities of Austin and Scottsburg stepped up to fight right beside Crothersville. Now, when drugs are the primary reason so many residents of Austin have been diagnosed with HIV, I don’t see my hometown community rallying behind them. Maybe they are… but I personally haven’t seen it. I understand why… I do… but I sure feel awful for the Austin community even though I’m no longer just 4 miles away.
If you like podcasts and want to hear more about the drug/HIV epidemic in Austin, check out Embedded.