Khala Hochstedler

Stan Jastrzebski / WBAA News

By the slimmest of margins, Tippecanoe County’s needle exchange program will survive for at least one more year.

A 2-1 vote by the county commissioners Monday came down only after Commissioner David Byers – who’d declined for weeks to state his stance publicly – voted in favor of a continuance.

Byers says he was swayed by talking to other commissioners at a recent state conference and by listening closely to public comment at Monday’s meeting from those who are unhappy about the exchange operating in a residential neighborhood in Lafayette.

ZaldyImg / https://www.flickr.com/photos/8499561@N02/

Tippecanoe County Health Department officials Friday tried to bar reporters from the public building where the county’s needle exchange had begun operating.

Reporters were able to talk with public health nurse Khala Hochstedler until a few minutes before 1 p.m. Friday, when she claimed they had to leave the building.

But because Tippecanoe County decided to start its program over the objections of Lafayette and West Lafayette officials, it had to be in a county-owned space – one that, by definition, is open to the public.

Gretchen Frazee / IPBS

After months of struggling to secure a location, the Tippecanoe County Health Department plans to inaugurate a needle exchange program in its building this Friday. 

The program comes nearly a year after a public health emergency was issued for the county.