By now everyone in the Norwich community has hopefully realized the very serious problem we all are facing, addiction. If not, it is time everyone jumps on board, because this problem doesn’t just involve the drug addicts and alcoholics, it encompasses everyone.
I attended, like many in the community did, the drug panel that was held at the Guernsey Memorial Library on Dec. 1, 2015. It was truly awesome to see that community room packed, with only minimal standing room in the back.
The panel of speakers included: Jennah Shreve, a Drug Court graduate; Mike Galesky, a Drug Court graduate; Sarah VanTine, a Drug Court graduate; Connie Barnes, mother of a deceased drug victim and nurse; Sarah Stewart, mother of a former user; Jim Everard, Drug Court Facilitator; Elliot Stewart, a former user and Rehab Intake Director; Joseph McBride, Chenango County District Attorney; Frank Revoir, Chenango County Judge; and John Dunkel, Probation Officer.
I think this panel was a huge step in the right direction for a Norwich community that seems to be very fed up with the addiction problem that exists.
I congratulate and thank each and every person who spoke at that panel that day.
I would also like to thank our law enforcement and court system for their ongoing efforts, but their actions are purely reactionary in nature.
However, not including these drug related arrests, and drug convictions in County Court, which happen what seems to be every few days; since this panel I have seen little to no actions taken to continue taking the steps necessary to cleaning up Norwich.
You may ask what these steps may be; a simple response is to continue to talk. A community that communicates has greater chance of tackling a problem than one who simply posts statuses on Facebook and complains constantly.
I would even go far enough to say that since no one has passed away recently from a drug overdose, as far as I know, the chatter about what needs to be done has simply faded away, as people have seemed to fall back into their Norwich bubble everyday routine.
I chose to attend the last Norwich City School Board meeting, which was held a few weeks ago at the Norwich Middle School. During the public opinion section of the meeting, I listened to one concerned individual – who also spoke at the drug panel – speak out on this matter of addiction.
Donald Chirlin, a retired Norwich City School teacher, per normal procedure, only spoke for a mere five minutes at this school board meeting. But he still spoke.
During these school board meetings, each person who wishes to speak during the public comment section is permitted to a five-minute time slot. Despite this long-standing rule, I feel this is somewhat of a metaphor for how Norwich seems to be handling their drug and addiction problem. Let them speak on the matter so it can be heard and publicized, that way it seems like a true effort is being made. However, we can only permit you to speak for five minutes because we really don’t want to hear about it, seems to be the attitude.
Chirlin spoke in regards to addressing the problem at the middle and high school level, essentially arguing that an attempt needs to be made in the schools to help prevent or reduce future addicts before graduation.
This short presentation was listened to intently by the board and a positive response was given.
Many of you who may be reading this piece, by this time might be thinking that the resources just don’t exist in Chenango County or Norwich, and you would be correct in assuming that.
But I would like to remind people that the more a topic is talked about, the more attention will be brought to it, and hopefully that will cause some more change.
Thankfully since the last time I wrote no one has passed away from overdose, but just the other day on Dec. 21, there was another major drug bust that occurred right in City of Norwich on Division Street. This time the Norwich Police Department recovered methamphetamine, as well as material used to manufacture this drug.
Speaking from personal experience when I cover County Court for The Evening Sun, there seems to be a lot of drug related burglaries recently. During the panel at the library, our District Attorney even alleged that with drug addiction comes an increase in burglaries, due to addicts stealing to support their habit.
So maybe drugs aren’t a part of your life directly, and maybe no one you know has an addiction problem. But burglaries take a toll on everyone, as they put a community in a state of fear.
So as we enter the new year of 2016 in just a few short days, it is important to remember that this addiction problem isn’t just a 2015 problem. So as the new year is fast approaching, we should remember when making our new year’s resolutions that maybe as a community we should look to correct the direction our community seems to be heading before we fail to try to hit the gym a little more as resolution.