Archive for Wednesday, April 5, 2000

Community discusses drugs, alcohol

April 5, 2000

Attendance at last week's community meeting about drug and alcohol use by Baldwin City youth caught organizer Laura McCall by surprise.

"I'm overwhelmed," McCall told the crowd of about 80 in the Baldwin Junior High School library. "Usually when I schedule something like this, three or four people show up. I'm glad you're here."

The group shared their experiences, thoughts, possible remedies and concerns about the use and abuse of alcohol and drugs among Baldwin High School and Baldwin Junior High School students.

"The timing was good," McCall said about the reason for having the meeting. "There have been a lot of things happening that have raised concerns. We're here to discuss the issue and see where we want to go."

Recently there have been numerous BHS students arrested for drug and alcohol offenses, including one this weekend where a 16-year-old BHS student was arrested south of town for possession of marijuana with intent to sell, among other charges. Stories of beer parties every weekend at Douglas County State Lake have also raised concern. No one was denying that drugs and alcohol are readily available here.

"If we didn't want to solve the problem, if we didn't want to prevent it, we wouldn't be here," said James White, superintendent of the Baldwin school district.

Many possible solutions were expressed, including drug testing at the high school, a community center and a change in law enforcement to send a message. But, there were also other ideas shared.

"Bottom line, I think it starts at home," said Laura Morford, who has three teen-agers. "It's the morals that you have to stand by."

Peggy Wessel, who has two teen-agers, agreed, but added it's important that everyone realizes the problems are here.

"I think it starts at home, but it can't start with denial," said Wessel. "We can't deny that this is going on in Baldwin."

Several people suggested that police and sheriff's officers should abandon the "poor out your beer and move on" philosophy. They wanted a call from law enforcement so they could know what's going on with their kids and do something about it.

"I think a few arrests might stop this," said Tammy Johnson, the mother of three teen-agers. "If I get a call at home about one of my kids, I'd say book 'em."

Mike Gammage, school resource officer, explained that part of the problem law enforcement has is being short handed. After about an hour and a half of such discussion, it was agreed that there should be additional meetings.

"We're not going to solve it tonight," said Dave Michael, another parent in attendance. "We've got to continue the dialogue."

Those in attendance signed up to be contacted for the next meeting. McCall said Tuesday that she's lined up another meeting for 7:30 p.m. April 19 at BJHS. James Barnett will discuss beer keg registration.

"This meeting will be important for those taverns, liquor stores or other businesses that sell kegs," said McCall. "The concern is that adults are buying kegs that are getting into the hands of kids. We want community input on this issue."

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