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Faces of Hope 

Charles McCall before and afterCharles McCall before and after


Our 64th spotlight in the FACES OF HOPE: WE DO RECOVER series will focus on Charles McCall’s story, Everything Happens for a Reason.


My name is Charles McCall, and I live in Ironton, Ohio. I grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio with my mom and siblings until I was 15.  At that time I found myself in trouble and came to Ironton to live with my dad and my grandmother, “Ms. Elma”, who played a major role in teaching me how to live life the right way. It would just take some years and lots of tears to use apply those lessons to my life.  I’ve been through a lot situations and I can say I am blessed to be here. After moving to Ironton, I learned to live a normal life with my dad and grandma. They taught me how to work and go to school.

I eventually graduated from Ironton High school and went into the Navy. While I was in the Navy I began to drink heavily. There are times I can’t even remember where I was and what I had been doing. I really loved my time in the Navy. It made me feel proud of myself, something I had struggled with growing up. The birth of my firstborn was the deciding factor of coming home from the military. The relationship with his mom didn’t work out, and that’s when I began to drink heavily again. I worked multiple jobs over the years and would drink when I got off. At times, I would stay up all night and just go to work the next day. I started smoking weed and eventually started selling it to support the habit I created. That’s when I met my two youngest kids’ mom and began a spiral downward. Not thinking I had a problem at all, I functioned normally and even attended college to try to become a teacher. I worked at a kids’ center that I really loved and enjoyed. It felt good to help the kids that were there. I eventually got fired for something I felt was unjust. It angered me, so I began to sell more drugs and smoke more weed. I convinced myself that I could make more in a day doing wrong than I could working any job. Pretty soon selling weed turned into selling cocaine and more and more money. Bigger risk was a norm to me. I always told myself that I was already set up, so I might as well go big.

I eventually got caught. I’m the first to say that was a blessing. I was sentenced to 9 years in state prison. While I was locked up, a change in me occurred. I took a program called the Harvest Program. It’s an AOD (Alcohol and Drug) program at Lancaster Correctional Facility. I had a facilitator that had a big impact on me. He was a four-time felon that got his life together and went back to school to get his degree so that he could help others like him. I still use the tools I learned there today. My kids were also a driving force behind my change. It killed me to see their faces as they were about to leave visits. My daughter was born after I was locked up, so I watched her grow from visits to visit. One day she was old enough to say, “Come on Daddy”. All I could do was look at her and say, “Hopefully soon”.

I made a plan and after doing six years, I was released early. I came home in 2013. Again, I was blessed enough that my aunt, who is a retired prison guard, let me stay with her until I could get on my feet. It was really difficult at first. I had to wear an ankle bracelet for six months. It was $105 a week. After doing six years, it felt impossible and I thought I would go back to prison. I can say that I was blessed to have friends and family that helped me out until I was able to land my first job. It was in no way easy, but I told myself that I was not going back.

My first job was working with a really good friend remodeling apartments, laying carpet, and other odd end jobs. It was a big step in helping me maintain my payments for my ankle bracelet. I eventually got a job thru the CAO, with the help of my Military representative, doing flood relief cleanup on river banks and creeks in the Lawrence County, Ohio area. I never stopped putting in applications everywhere, because that job was just a seasonal six month job. A month after starting the flood relief job, I got a job at a place called McSweeny’s. I worked there for three years until I was laid off due to lack of work. We made snow plow blades and drill bits for oil, gas and coal companies. Again, I can say that was a blessing in disguise. I was laid off for fifteen months. I hated going to the unemployment office and unemployment checks were not enough. I started selling purses, shoes and other accessories to bring in money for the household. It caught on so quick that I made a Facebook page and I started mailing Purses and shoes out to other states. I still felt like that wasn’t good enough.

I came home from putting applications in online at the unemployment office and sat down. I looked my girlfriend in the eye and said there has to be a better way. I was waiting on replies from various companies I really wanted to work for in the drug and alcohol field. I felt I could do well in helping others. I told my girlfriend that I wanted to come up with a website that people like myself can go on and ask questions from people like myself. Questions like, “How do I start a small business?”, “How do I get in a union?”, “How do I get into school?” All the way to “How do I get help for drugs and alcohol?” The hardest part was coming up with a name. A few bounced around and was kind of lengthy. Finally, with the help from my girlfriend who is one of my biggest motivators and supporters, we came up with #PMOP (People Motivating Other People). I thought about everyone who motivates me, and decided to get t-shirts made for them. After people started seeing the t-shirts, everyone asked where I got them and if they could get one. I eventually started selling them. I’ve sent them as far as California, Indiana, Virginia and other places.

More and more people started messaging me because they could relate to my story and felt I was in to something big. People would message me and ask for advice about things and ask how I was able to do the time I did and get out and get my life together. The first thing I would say is “People, places and things”. I believe in brutal honesty, and I’ve learned that people respect that. One guy I now consider a really good friend messaged me. He said he had been watching me and my Facebook page. He said he was in the Army and got out and was in a rut. He said I motivated him into doing something he’s always been afraid of doing and was going back to school. I told him that that motivation has always been there. Sometimes you just have to see others do things to help you see you can do it too. That’s the whole thing about #PMOP. It’s so simple, but can impact so many people. All you basically have to do is live your life the best way you can in a positive way and you can inspire and motivate people without even knowing. It was a different feeling for me. I was used to negative attention from others. It was weird, but felt good to know people were watching me for the good I was doing.

#PMOP is so much bigger than me and my story. Pretty soon people were buying shirts and giving them to people who motivated and inspired them. One girl had breast cancer and fought it until she beat it. She is helping motivate others to fight too. Another girl teaches Yoga and other aerobic classes and got one, because she motivates others to be healthy. The different things and situations go on and on. That’s why I said it’s bigger than me. I eventually, with the help from my girlfriend, started sponsoring basketball tournaments, doing nonperishable food drives that we would donate to the local food banks, sponsoring Cheerleading groups, sponsored a gifted young lady that need help with funding that was going to get her to run in the Jr Olympics. We helped bring a documentary called “I’m Not Your Negro” to Movies 10 in Ashland for a private viewing. Over 120 people showed up and it was a huge success.

Over and over people ask me why I am doing all the things I have done and continue to do. I respond the same way every time. I say “I had a hand in the direction this Tristate area went before why can’t I have a positive influence on how it goes now.” I never gave up on finding a good job. I actually have an amazing job I’ve been at for almost seven months now. I work for Toyota, up in Buffalo, West Virginia. I’ve learned that nothing happens overnight. It takes consistency to achieve all of the goals you set. I tell people all the time, set goals in your life. Once you reach those goals, set more. You might even surprise yourself how far you really can get in life.

My life changed for the best December 18th, 2007. Some people look at me like I’m crazy when I say that, because that’s when I was arrested. I look at it like that was God’s way of saving my life. In May I will have been home five years. I couldn’t imagine a better life to live now. I don’t have to worry about looking over my shoulder or wondering who just got busted or who’s snitching anymore. I’ve bought my first house ever. I have an amazing woman in my life, I have custody of my kids, and I try to always keep a positive attitude about life. People ask me how I always stay so positive. I respond back and say “$18”. They look at me with a puzzled face and ask what I mean by that. That’s when I tell them, that’s what I got paid a month when I was in prison. Everyone has a bottom. I reached mine quickly. Everything I loved was yanked from me. I actually learned humility and became the man I am now. That was a very humbling experience that I needed to go through to grow as a person. I’m not saying everyone should be locked up, because prison doesn’t change anyone. You have to want change for yourself first. That’s with anything in life.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please call Addiction Recovery Care at 606.638.0938 or visit them on the web at


There is hope. There is help.

Date: 11-20-2017

As part of the state’s Don’t Let Them Die campaign, the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet and Operation UNITE have created the KY Help Call Center to connect residents with drug treatment, according to Gov. Matt Bevin’s office.

The toll-free hotline — 1-833-8KY-HELP (1-833-859-4357) — opens on Dec. 1 and is intended for individuals struggling with substance abuse as well as family members.

“This phone number will connect callers to a live person who understands this exact issue and will link them to community resources that can help,” Bevin said in a release.

Bevin kicked off the Don’t Let Them Die campaign this year to help combat the opioid crisis, which claimed more than 1,400 lives in 2016.

Operation UNITE (an acronym for Unlawful Narcotics Investigations, Treatment and Education) was introduced in April 2003 by U.S. Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers after The Lexington Herald-Leader wrote a series of articles that exposed the addiction and corruption associated with drug abuse in southern and eastern Kentucky, according to its website.

It already fields about 1,000 inquiries each month from residents seeking help with a substance use disorder. The new KY Help Call Center will provide referrals across the state to both public and private treatment providers, according to the release.

UNITE is staffing the KY Help Call Center with specialists in Prestonsburg, Ky.; a specialist is available 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Otherwise, callers can leave a message.

In a statement, Nancy Hale, president of Operation UNITE, said: “There are so many people across the commonwealth who have nowhere to turn when confronted with their own addiction or that of a loved one. They are desperate for answers. They are desperate for help. This call center will guide people toward recovery. It will give them hope.”

The Kentucky Justice Cabinet is funding it through anti-drug appropriations in the current budget — approximately $500,000 per year for the next two years.

Insider Louisville


NOVEMBER 13, 2017

Move paves way for Bevin's revamping of program, including premiums...

The Trump administration has announced rules changes for the Medicaid program that allow states to require some enrollees to work or volunteer – changes that likely pave the way for Kentucky's new Medicaid plan to be approved.

Seema Verma (US News photo)Seema Verma (US News photo)"Let me be clear to everyone in this room, we will approve proposals that promote community engagement activities, " Seema Verma, director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said in a speech to state Medicaid directors Nov. 7.

Gov. Matt Bevin proposed changes to Kentucky Medicaid by requesting a waiver from federal rules more than a year ago.

The proposal largely targets "able-bodied" adults who qualify for Medicaid under the expansion of the program under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – those with household incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level.

If approved, the plan would require such beneficiaries who are not "medically frail" or primary caregivers to work or volunteer 20 hours a week to keep their coverage. Work requirements for Medicaid recipients have historically not been approved because they didn't line up with the program's mission to provide medical assistance to low-income people; now the rules are different.

Kentucky Medicaid Commissioner Stephen Miller said at the directors' meeting that Kentucky hopes to implement the state's work requirements by July, Lisa Gillespie reported for Louisville's WFPL.

At the Nov. 6 meeting of Kentucky's Friedell Committee for Health System Transformation, Dr. Gil Liu, the state's medical director for Medicaid, said the state will initially implement work requirements in regions that have the most jobs available, and will then figure out how to implement them in other parts of the state where fewer jobs are available.

The plan would also require most Kentuckians on Medicaid to pay small monthly premiums, initially $1 per person to $15 per family, depending on income. People with disabilities, pregnant women, children and caregivers would not have to pay.

"Miller said the administrative costs of collecting those premiums would be higher than the actual amount of premium collected. But he said the point of the change isn’t to make money — it’s to encourage enrollees to transition out of Medicaid and into private coverage," Gillespie reports.

Critics of the plan, called Kentucky HEALTH, say that won't work because employers don't offer health insurance as a benefit nearly as much as they used to, and the state has many working poor who can't afford private insurance. Most covered by the Medicaid expansion work.

Miller said he expects about 200,000 Medicaid enrollees will be affected by the changes, Gillespie reports. The expansion covers about 478,000 Kentuckians; Medicaid as a whole covers about 1.4 million. For a spreadsheet of enrollment by county in June 2017, click here.

If federal officials approve the waiver, as expected, the state estimates that 95,000 fewer Kentuckians will be on Medicaid in five years than if the proposal is not accepted. The state estimates that will save the state and federal government $2.4 billion over the next five years.

The state pays 30 percent of traditional Medicaid costs. The federal government paid all the expansion costs for the first three years, but this year the state is paying 5 percent, and that will rise in annual steps to the law's limit of 10 percent in 2020.

Bevin has said the state cost is "unsustainable," and rejects arguments that the multi-billion-dollar expansion has generated state tax revenue by boosting employment in health care.

Commissioner Stephen MillerCommissioner Stephen MillerThe governor's lieutenants also make the argument that the expansion hasn't improved Kentucky's health. Miller did that at the Medicaid directors' meeting.

"He said that even though the state’s Medicaid rolls have soared to cover 33 percent of residents, Kentucky still has high rates of cancer, smoking and obesity," Phil Galewitz of Kaiser Health News reports, quoting Miller directly: “We have to try something else. We need to do more than just help people access health care.”

Officials of then-Gov. Steve Beshear's administration said when they expanded Medicaid that it would take several years to change the state's health status, and that it might even decline temporarily as people who hadn't received care for many years were diagnosed with health problems.

Tens of thousands of Kentuckians have used their new Medicaid benefits to get screened for cancer and other health problems, or get treatment for substance abuse or other issues. A three-year study of the expansion in Kentucky and Arkansas found a 23 percent increase in the share of people in federal surveys who reported that their health is excellent.

Emily Beauregard, executive director of Kentucky Voices for Health, an umbrella group of pro-Obamacare organizations, wrote in an op-ed that Bevin's changes are designed to "remove people from the rolls, rather than to promote health and access to affordable care."

Verma, who played an active role in designing Kentucky's waiver request, told the Medicaid directors that the new rules are "ushering in a new day for Medicaid" that will increase states' flexibility while improving accountability and integrity.

"We owe our fellow citizens more than just giving them a Medicaid card. We owe a card with care, and more importantly a card with hope," Verma said. "Hope that they can achieve a better future for themselves and their families. Hope that they can one day break the chains of generational poverty and no longer need public assistance, and the hope that every American, no matter their race, creed, or origin, can reach their highest potential. We will approve proposals that accomplish this goal."

Verma also said, "Believing that community engagement requirements do not support or promote the objectives of Medicaid is a tragic example of the soft bigotry of low expectations consistently espoused by the prior administration."

Seven other states — Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Maine, New Hampshire, Utah and Wisconsin — have submitted varying requests to CMS that would require non-disabled Medicaid enrollees to either work or provide community service.
Posted by Melissa Patrick at 9:35 PM


Kentucky Health News is an independent news service of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, based in the School of Journalism and Media at the University of Kentucky, with support from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky



November 20, 2017

 Donald Hicks, a local veteran and Megan Tackett, a 2nd year dental hygiene student are all smiles after finishing up his exam during the Veterans Dental Clinic hosted by Big Sandy Community and Technical College Donald Hicks, a local veteran and Megan Tackett, a 2nd year dental hygiene student are all smiles after finishing up his exam during the Veterans Dental Clinic hosted by Big Sandy Community and Technical College

PRESTONSBURG, Ky. – On November 8th Big Sandy Community and Technical College Dental Hygiene program hosted a Veterans Clinic on their Prestonsburg campus.

“We wanted to host a Veteran’s dental clinic to give back to our Veterans’ who gave so much for us.” Said Dr. Jill Keaton, dental hygiene program coordinator. “It was an honor to provide this service to them for free.”

Since opening its doors in 1995, the clinic, which is fully operational and provides cleanings, x-rays, fluoride treatments, and much more to help train future hygienists.

“I was blessed with this opportunity, and I am so thankful for our Veterans.” said Jerica Meade, a 2nd year dental hygiene student.

There were several veterans from around the area who took advantage of the clinic and were delighted at the service.

“I think dental health is very important and I’m glad that they provided this clinic.” Said Veteran Donald Hicks.

For more information about the Dental Hygiene/Dental Assisting program or to schedule an appointment in the clinic, call us today (606) 886-7352



Date: 11-09-2017

Insider Louisville

According to a report in Nature, the Environmental Protection Agency told the Lexington (Ky.) - based startup MosquitoMate that “it could release the bacterium Wolbachia pipientis into the environment as a tool against the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus).”

The lab-grown mosquitoes developed by MosquitoMate seek to eliminate the disease-carrying Asian tiger mosquito. (Aedes albopictus, shown here) | Courtesy of NatureThe lab-grown mosquitoes developed by MosquitoMate seek to eliminate the disease-carrying Asian tiger mosquito. (Aedes albopictus, shown here) | Courtesy of Nature

Translation: The company can release lab-grown, bacteria-infected, so-called killer mosquitoes in 20 states and Washington, D.C., Nature reported. As described by MosquitoMate, “Our ZAP male mosquitoes (non-biting!) are released prior to the mosquito season to begin the suppression of the mosquito breeding season.”

According to Quartz, “When bacteria-infected males mate with uninfected females, the females produce eggs that don’t hatch. In addition, infected mosquitoes are less likely to spread disease.”