Kieran's Reporter Blog

Small Town living, Big World Problems

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016
Kieran Coffey

It’s no secret that there is an epidemic taking a hold of our small little community, and it threatens to envelop us more and more each day. That epidemic comes in the form of drugs. Drugs such as heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine have infiltrated our tranquil, humble abode slowly and have begun to take over.
However, there is an even bigger threat to our community that many remain unaware of; whether it’s because of the fact that they chose to ignore it, or that they simply just don’t know about it. That threat comes in the form of prescription drugs.
Many people say that marijuana is a ‘gateway’ drug.
I witnessed a court case just the other day where a Father came in to support a son who had stolen an item of great value from him in order to fuel his drug addiction. That Father testified in court that his son’s addiction began at the tender age of 15, when he was prescribed Oxycontin by a doctor to treat a minor injury. That is what, in my personal opinion, can be classified as a ‘gateway’ drug.
Whenever someone reads a story in the paper or watches a news piece regarding a drug arrest, they are quick to assume that the individual has always been a ‘less than reputable’ character. While sometimes that is true, it is usually not the case. In fact, most times, the individual was a grade-A student who happened to be led astray by hanging with the wrong crowd, or in some cases, inadvertently got addicted to prescription medications, and needed to find a cheaper alternative to reach that ‘high’ when their prescription expired.
The District Attorney’s Office and the Judges around the County are doing their best to help solve this immensely troubling problem, but by the time most of the drug-related cases reach them, it is often too late. Sure, they can sentence someone to drug treatment court, but we need to put preventative measures in place to ensure that cases never even have to get that far in the first place.
The other alternative to drug treatment court is a hard dose of reality; meaning prison. Sending these poor, young, misguided souls to prison, some of whom are first-time offenders, won’t help solve or curb the addiction problem in our community.
I believe Macklamore said it best in his new song ‘Drug Dealer’
“Best friends with the thing that’s killing me;
Enemies with my best friend, there’s no healing me.”
What people need to understand is that addiction is a disease, just like any other. Counties have multiple programs dedicated to addressing alcohol addiction and mental health issues, so why not drug addiction?
We need to start programs to help those who are afflicted with this terrible ailment, before it’s too late.
It is a welcome change to see initiatives like the ‘Shed the Meds’ event and free narcan training that was held in Greene in late September, which was also attended by Senator Fred Akshar. During this event, attendees were invited to turn in their unused prescription medications in an effort to prevent them from getting on the streets. The event also aimed to provide awareness of opioid abuse.
With more initiatives such as this, we can help raise the awareness needed in the community to get new programs instituted, which will hopefully ensure that someone else doesn’t just become a statistic.
We all need to play a part in taking back our community, and making it a happy, thriving, drug-free place to live once more.

My compass points Nortz

Friday, July 22nd, 2016
Kieran Coffey

The death of a friend or a loved one is always hard. That experience is made even tougher when that person decides to take their own life.

My friend and mentor, Colby Nortz, took his own life on July 23, 2014.

I first met Colby through my fraternity, Tau Kappa Epsilon. At first, I thought he was brash, outspoken, and just outright rude. But, as they say, don’t judge a book by it’s cover.

Colby was one of a kind. He could light up a room just by walking in and always made his presence felt. If you were ever feeling down, one of Colby’s infamous two-hour talks could inspire you to believe that you could do anything your heart desired. He would always put everyone else’s needs above his own, and was a prime example of what every human should aspire to be.

Over the year or so that I was fortunate enough to get to know Colby, and become close to him, we had many fueled debates. Colby was never one to back down, and always stood behind what he believed was right. That is what I loved most about him, and why this tragedy struck a particular chord with me.

‘What could drive someone to do such a horrific thing?’ I couldn’t stop thinking to myself when I first heard the news. I was baffled. Colby is the absolute last person that anyone could have ever foreseen succumbing to such awful circumstances.

It is coming up on the two-year anniversary of Colby’s passing, and every year I am reminded that he is not the only one who felt this way, and managed to hide it so well from all of his family, loved ones and closest friends. In recent weeks, Chenango County has had to come together as a community to try and deal with a similar tragedy.

Mental health awareness and suicide prevention will always remain topical issues in our world. What society needs to understand is that someone who seeks help is not considered weak. If anything, they are strong for wanting to face and confront their demons. If anyone ever needs help, there are people out there willing to talk to you 24/7.

The suicide helpline is 1800-273-TALK (8255).

Never let the fear of being annoying be a justification for taking your own life.

I wish that my friend was still here to reiterate this point, but I know that Colby’s memory will live on through the words of wisdom, compassion and love that he shared with all those he met and knew, be it for one minute, or 10 years. I don’t want others to have to go through the heartbreak of losing a family member, loved one or a close friend.

My advice to you is to reach out to those you think are in need, and show them that they are not alone.

Let’s hope that this worryingly increasing trend, especially among young adults, will be curbed in the near future.

What a whirlwind

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016
Kieran Coffey

Well, it’s officially the start of my fourth week here at the Evening Sun, and what a few weeks it has been.

Let me start by introducing myself. My name is Kieran Coffey. I am the new crime and quality of life reporter here at the Evening Sun. Hopefully by the time you get to the end of this blog post, (if you can make it that far, that is), you will learn a little bit about me and what I plan to do in my role for the community.

My heritage comes from the Emerald Isle. Both of my parents immigrated to the U.S. back in 1984, in search of the elusive American Dream. Flash forward nine more years and I was born. We settled down in Whitestone, Queens, a suburb outside New York City. Due to extenuating circumstances, I was forced to move to Ireland when I was eight years old, where I lived with my aunt and uncle. This change would prove crucial in my development as an individual. While at first, it was hard for me to adjust to the culture and new surroundings, I quickly became accustomed to my new school, and started to make friends. What was only supposed to be a two week situation turned into a journey of eight years. I’m glad that I was fortunate enough to be able to experience two different ways of living. It provided me with a great sense of diversity.

When I was 16, the time came for me to move back to the U.S. By this time, my mom had grown tired of the hustle and bustle of the city, and moved towards the hills of Norwich. When I first arrived, the feelings of fear and anxiety came flooding back. I had to enter a new school all over again, making new friends somehow. I was extremely shocked and pleasantly surprised by the wonderful hospitality that I received when I eventually started in Norwich High School, and I can safely say that I made the most out of my two years there.

After this journey, it was off to college. With my car packed to bursting, I moved all my belongings once more. At this stage, I wasn’t even phased about adapting to a whole new environment. Over 5 years, I transferred school’s three times, until I finally ended up at SUNY Oswego. I stayed there for the final three years of my education, and it was one of the best decisions of my life. Oswego offered me the chance to get a degree from one of the top journalism schools in the country, and also provided me with the tools and experiences that I can utilize in the working world. In my final semester at Oswego, I was the pledge master of my fraternity, Tau Kappa Epsilon. While I will admit, it was much added stress on top of my already staunch workload, it gave me a terrific example of leadership.

Graduating college and starting a real reporting job just a week later, I had no idea what to really expect. Starting with my first day on the job, I got a taste of real action. As I was sitting in on my first County Court session, a robbery was taking place about 20 miles down the road, in Edmeston. Rushing back to the office, fellow reporter Cameron and I raced out in search of the culprit. We searched the area, but could find no trace of the suspect. However, the sheer exhilaration of the chase was enough to enthrall me.

That was the defining moment when I learned that college cannot prepare you for the reality of real time reporting. You are not just sitting in a classroom, being lectured, with daily assignments to turn in. Rather, you are exploring the community, scouring out the prime news stories of the day, and building connections in the locality. I couldn’t have envisioned what being a reporter truly entails.

If the rest of my reporting days are just as fulfilling as my first few weeks have been, then I know that I picked the right career for me. I hope that I can continue to provide you, the community, with quality reporting.

You can contact me a number of ways:
Phone: 607-337-3076
e-mail: kcoffey@evesun.com
twitter: @evesunkieran