Prevention Effort Goes on
statistics seem to indicate that the town doesn't have a real
problem with drugs.
But Ted Brennan and Jack Deatherage
Jr. said they don't think the data reflects what transpires on
the streets and behind closed doors, and they're trying to do
something about drug use in their community.
Brennan, Mr. Deatherage and a few other residents are
all that remains of the Emmitsburg Coalition to Prevent Drug
Abuse. The fledgling organization drew 40 people to its
initial meeting in March, but its last meeting had only three
people in attendance.
Still, the group marches on. Its next
meeting will feature a multimedia demonstration about drug
abuse by the Frederick County Sheriff's Office Drug Task
Force, a different presentation than the one the sheriff's
office gave at a previous coalition gathering. The meeting is
set for Nov. 13 at 7:30 p.m. at the Emmitsburg Ambulance Co.
building on South Seton Avenue and is open to the public.
Brennan, who works on drug-control issues as a staffer at the
House of Representatives, admits he's disappointed with the
attendance plunge. However, he said he's not discouraged and
will continue regardless.
"If it's just me by myself doing
it," he said, "I'm willing to do it. I can't change
the whole world by myself obviously, but hopefully I can
change my little part of it."
Mr. Deatherage said he went to the
first meeting out of curiosity but kept coming out of a sense
of paying off a debt. The 24-year town resident said that
years ago, he smoked marijuana and was a binge drinker.
"At one time, I was part of the
problem this town had," he said. "I sort of feel I
owe this town something. This is not a good town to raise a
kid in if you know what goes on."
Many of the parents in town, Mr.
Deatherage said, abused substances in their younger days. Some
of them haven't shed those bad habits, so he's not optimistic
about them helping fight to keep drugs out of the town.
"If you've got parents who grew
up smoking pot and snorting coke and popping pills and
tripping on LSD now and then, and they're still doing it, how
are they going to stop their kids from doing it?" he
Mr. Deatherage, 49, said the problem
is greater and deeper than arrest statistics show.
Deputy Jennifer Bailey said sheriff's
office records show only a handful of drug arrests in
Emmitsburg between Oct. 1, 2002, and Sept. 30, 2003. She said
four people were charged with possession of marijuana, two
were arrested for heroin possession, and one was charged for
possession of heroin with intent to distribute. No overdoses
were attributed to controlled dangerous substances.
Even if a resident thinks that data
reflects the scope of the problem, Mr. Brennan said there's
still a reason to get involved with the group. Communities, he
said, should be proactive to keep drugs off their streets.
The group is targeting kids with the
goal of keeping them from starting drug use. Emmitsburg, a
town that's 25 miles from any city with more than 10,000
people, has few options to keep children entertained.
Mr. Brennan said kids start using when
they're as young as 10 now, and he'd like to see plenty of
activities offered to lessen the temptation.
"You hear there's not enough to
do in Emmitsburg, he said, "and it's true. We've got to
get activities that are cool for kids to do. I'd rather see
them picking up a soccer ball or a baseball or a guitar versus
picking up a heroin needle or a crack pipe."
Mr. Deatherage, a coach for the Izaak
Walton League of America, would like to see kids interested in
archery, firearms safety, or even a community garden.
The ideas are nice, but it takes
manpower and money to run a program.
Mr. Brennan hoped the coalition would
have officers elected and volunteers working by now, but there
haven't been enough people to do either. The White House
Office of National Drug Control Policy has pledged a grant of
up to $100,000 to help run the program, but currently there's
nothing to run.
Mr. Deatherage said he's not
optimistic that town residents will support the coalition. He
viewed the few people at the last meeting as the only ones
committed to an anti-drug effort.
That, however, isn't Mr. Brennan's
stance. He's convinced the organization can prosper. He said
Mayor Jim Hoover recently said many programs in Emmitsburg
were unsuccessful at first but finally got going.
"It's just a matter of getting
the kindling burning, I think," Mr. Brennan said. "I
think there's some convincing that still needs to come
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