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U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell stopped Thursday afternoon in Elizabethtown to answer questions from local health care professionals and discuss the county’s recent designation as a high intensity drug trafficking area.
The Senate minority leader played a “critical role” in Hardin County’s recent inclusion in the Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, which was created in 1988 and covers 66 counties, said Tracy Schiller, chief of Elizabethtown Police Department.
McConnell visited the department to discuss the new designation with area law enforcement, other local officials and David J. Hale, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky.
McConnell said the Hardin County area technically is not part of the Appalachia area. However, the principle argument for its inclusion in the drug trafficking area was its proximity to Interstate 65 and Western Kentucky Parkway.
The intersecting highways make Hardin County a “transit point” for drug activity, he said.
Joe Williams, director of AHIDTA, said the designation will “bolster” the Greater Hardin County Narcotics Task Force and provide equipment, training, overtime funding and access to AHIDTA’s investigative support center.
According to Schiller, Hardin County would not have received the designation and federal support to stop drug trafficking without McConnell’s direct assistance.
“In demonstration of his commitment to the communities of Hardin County, he personally met with Director Gil Kerlikowske of the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy at the U.S. Capitol to discuss the county’s designation,” the chief said. “Throughout the entire process, he has demonstrated his keen understanding of both the need and the positive impact this would have upon our community.”
In addition to representatives from Elizabethtown, officials from Radcliff, Vine Grove, West Point, Kentucky State Police Post 4 and military police were present Thursday.
Prior to his visit at EPD, McConnell stopped at HealthSouth Lakeview Regional Hospital where he discussed the Affordable Care Act and its impact on the health-care field.
McConnell assured the audience of health care professionals he was not there to make a political speech or campaign but to provide his take on where the country stands on health care.
According to the senator, the health care act was a “terrible idea” that was the first step toward “Europeanizing” the United States.
After he spent about 20 minutes speaking about the issue, McConnell took questions from the audience, many about the Affordable Care Act.
McConnell said he frequently visits Elizabethtown and the Hardin County area because of Fort Knox and its importance to the military community.
He added the county is a fast-growing area that faces “interesting challenges,” such as the new drug-trafficking designation.
Sarah Bennett can be reached at (270) 505-1750 or email@example.com.