November 14, 2017

Welcome to Trump County, USA

Grant County, W. Va., is a land of stunning mountain views and rock formations and some of the friendliest people in America. It is also the most pro-Trump county in the state. Eighty-eight percent of its voters gave their support to Trump in the 2016 presidential election and a year later few said they regretted voting for the president.

In fact, according to two local West Virginia state delegates, Allen Evans and Bill Hamilton, Trump may now be more popular in Grant County than he was on Election Day.

Grant County, like much of West Virginia, has also been hard hit by the drug epidemic. Petersburg Dairy Queen owner Ray Blum said he has a hard time finding employees who can pass a drug test. Brenda and Adam, two of Blum’s employees, are both recovering addicts and say Petersburg is still overrun with drugs. “If I ever lost my clean date — August 29, 2014 — I don’t think I would try going through this all again,” said Brenda of the difficult recovery process. “I would go to heroin, overdose and end it.”

Several area groups are trying to combat the drug scourge. “There’s been a tremendous uptick in the need for care,” said Cindy Piles, the resource development manager for Burlington United Methodist Family Services, which provides adoption and drug rehab services to people in Grant and nearby counties. “The uptick is caused by the drug issues in the state and in the whole country.”

Opinions vary on the best approach to fight the epidemic. Many say Petersburg can’t arrest its way out of the problem. But Mayor Gary Michael said, “What bothers me more than anything is that if we arrest you for drugs, they slap you on the hand and put you on the street. I say to the officers, ‘this guy is selling.’ But the procedures that the officers have to go through are ridiculous.”

This video was originally featured as a part of the Washington Examiner’s series The Race To 2020: The people and places that will define a presidency. You can read more here.

First Name:
Last Name:
Email address:*
Zip Code: