It will be the first, and only one, of it's kind in the community.

Tuesday night Franklin County Commissioners voted in favor of launching the needle exchange program, which will be operated out of the Benton Franklin Health District's Pasco facility. It will be overseen by the Blue Mountain Heart to Heart HIV/AIDS Support Services group.

The program will allow users of injectable drugs such as heroin, to drop off old needles and exchange them for clean ones. Previously, people had to drive to Walla Walla for such a service.

Officials with the program say it's not just people handing out syringes and needles. According to program overseers, they offer counseling and inform clients of drug treatment options and other ways to deal with their addictions. They say it keeps users from possibly contracting diseases and other viruses from using dirty needles.

Opponents say it's enabling people by giving them methods to continue their habits.

No word on what date the program will begin operations.

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