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Partnership takes on meth scourge

Sheila Gardner

GARDNERVILLE – With its quiet neighborhoods, good schools and a quality of life that attracts more people every day, Douglas County looks as if residents may have escaped many of the problems that beleaguer larger cities.

But there is one issue that has officials concerned: the widening use of methamphetamine by people of all ages from teenagers to adults their parents’ age.

The Partnership of Community Resources is hosting a conference Aug. 12 to address the problem and raise community awareness.

“We don’t have gathering places like rundown hotels and other areas where drug use is prevalent like big cities, but people need to see what is behind the scenes,” said Cheryl Bricker, executive director of the Partnership.

“We have a ‘pristine community’ that everyone loves and people like to think there is no problem,” she said.

The conference – “Methamphetamine: Old Problems, New Solutions” – is directed at educators, law enforcement personnel and business people, but is open to anyone in the community, Bricker said.

Cost is $100 and participants can earn continuing education units.

Bricker hopes the conference is the first step in building awareness and community-based solutions.

Topics include facts and myths about methamphetamine manufacture, distribution and use; prevention, treatment and assessment and how the legal system, medical and dental profession and employers respond.

“The majority of crimes in Douglas County have a drug component,” said Douglas County deputy district attorney Mark Jackson, a member of the Partnership.

“Methamphetamine has the ability of affecting each and every one of us,” he said. “Besides just the drug busts people read about in the newspaper, the majority of property crimes – commercial and residential burglaries, shoplifting – the stuff being stolen gets turned around and sold for money to obtain drugs.”

Jackson also is on the board of directors of the Nevada chapter of Drug-Endangered Children, a nationwide program to bring awareness to how children are affected by the manufacturing, trafficking, sales, possession and use of drugs by their families and in their homes.

In homes where methamphetamine is manufactured, children are confronted with safety issues from exposure to volatile chemicals to dangerous paraphernalia like needles and syringes.

“Even in the sales of drugs, it is common for deals to go bad,” he said. “People get in fights, threats are made and a lot of the time you have children there.”

Jackson cited a recent case in Topaz Ranch Estates where three generations of a family including a 3-week-old baby were at a home where methamphetamine was being used.

“This particular case was a flophouse,” Jackson said. “You’re not going to see these children coming out of these sanitary-type conditions. A lot of these meth houses are in great disrepair. There is evidence that suggests neglect and endangerment.”

Jackson said he hopes the conference will educate business people on what is available in rehabilitation and prevention and treatment for their employees.

“The key concept is the prevention side of it,” Jackson said. “Children are the key to our future and we need to do a better job. We really need to educate the community on how they can help law enforcement to stop this epidemic. It’s not just Douglas. It’s pretty much everywhere now.”

Jackson and Bricker are optimistic that the tide can be turned.

“My own thought on the best way to deal with it is to keep the pressure on and maintain consistency in how we prosecute,” Jackson said.

Bricker said she hopes the Aug. 12 conference will be the first in a series.

“It could be neighborhood-to-neighborhood, peer-to-peer – that’s a start,” she said. “We want to protect seniors and our children. We all want to live in a safe environment.”

She shared Jackson’s concern that methamphetamine use is spreading, which makes all residents vulnerable.

“Parental involvement is the key to unlocking the problem,” she said. “Maybe your child has never been involved in drugs, but it might be your neighbor’s child or your grandchild.

“This is our call to action,” she said. “I know Douglas County won’t disappoint me.”

If you go

What: “Methamphetamine: Old Problem, New Solutions”

When: 7:30 a.m-4:30 p.m., Aug. 12

Where: Carson Valley Inn, Minden

Details: Make checks payable to Partnership of Community Resources, P.O. Box 651, Minden, NV, 89423. Information, Stormy Holloway, (775) 782-8611 or pcrholloway@partnershipresource.org.


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