A walk through the North End neighborhood of Austin is a telling example of this town’s place in this world.
More so than along the partly abandoned Main Street minutes away, the county’s 19 percent poverty rate is on full display here, with homes littered with scrap and trash, rusted and broken basketball hoops, battered facades, old and junked cars and plywood boards over windows.
Nearly every home has a warning to keep off the property.
“We’re a little standoffish,” Spicer says of the town’s mentality. “If you’re my friend, you’re my friend. If you’re not, well, keep away from me.”
It’s in the North End where Spicer believes drug use took off and where the sharing of needles became commonplace – and hence, the area where HIV began spreading throughout the town.
Spicer and other locals said the closing of factories nearby and the lack of jobs for people in an already low income town has plunged Austin into where it is now – devoid of restaurants, a grocery store, opportunities.
Austin sits 10 miles from Scottsburg, which is also where the nearest hotels are, but transportation for people suffering hard times makes it nearly impossible for them to seek employment there or elsewhere.
Interstate 65 runs through the area, which also brings plenty of drugs as well as people looking for prostitutes, with some in Austin happy to oblige for the money.
Also, according to Spicer, some elderly residents are selling legally obtained pain medication to the younger generation on the streets to make cash.
“It’s a black market and people need money,” Spicer said. “People will exploit people for money.”. . .
It’s easy to find used needles along the streets of the North End. Some people even find them on playgrounds. Officials urge parents whose children suffer an accidental prick while playing to get to a hospital immediately.
When it rains, officials said, the needles sometimes wash up from the sewers and can be found in the gutters of the streets.
Those stories may sound dire, crazy even, but officials conducted a cleanup day Saturday when volunteers were trained and wore specialized suits when they went out and looked for needles . . .Wiehe's story bemoans the fact a Plannned Parenthood clinic in Scott County, the only place until the health crisis erupted where local residents could get tested for HIV in the county, was closed due to budget cuts "spearheaded by Republican lawmakers" in 2013. Health officials have distributed more than 1,000 needles to drug users in exchange for used syringes and needles in an effort to stem new infections. The needle exchange program was approved under an emergency order approved by Gov. Mike Pence, which is limited to Scott County.