Jobs versus drugs

Published 11:19 am Wednesday, September 7, 2016

My good friend, Augie Wallmeyer, is publishing a book titled “Extremes of Virginia.”

As it becomes available, I encourage folks to read it. Last Sunday, the Richmond-Times Dispatch ran the first of four columns they intend to run based on the book over the course of four Sunday editions. The name of the book is based on the extreme difference between the golden crescent of Virginia and the outlying rural area.

One interesting note, buried in the data were details about the deaths in Virginia from drug overdoses. Statewide in 2014, the death rate was 6.4 per 100,000 people. The Eastern Shore rate is double that rate at 11.7 and the rate for Southwest Virginia is three times greater at 16.4.  The rate in Southern Virginia, however, is less than one third of the state rate. This rate of 1.8 per 100,000 was a pleasant surprise for our region.

For me, this was a big surprise considering the fact that employer after employer tell me of issues they have with finding and keeping employees who are drug free. The difference being that in the state overall, the highly addictive opioids such as heroin, cocaine and meth are more prevalent.

Frank Ruff represents Lunenburg County in the Virginia Senate. His email address is