Meth madness: Residents fed up

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At least one Craig resident is disgusted by what he sees as a methamphetamine infestation in town.

The Shadow Mountain Village man claims his neighbors manufacture and use the drug because of the high volume of traffic on the block and strange smells that emit from the house.

To date, the man -- who refused to be identified for fear of retribution against his family -- has turned in reams of license plate numbers to police and keeps a vigilant eye on his neighborhood's happenings.

"I've had it right to here," he said, drawing a finger under his chin. "If nobody else wants to stand up and speak, then I will. It makes me so damn mad."

But it seems a growing number of residents are adopting a similar sentiment. A recently formed meth task force -- a loosely knit group of residents intent on educating the public about meth and eliminating its community presence -- already is gathering robust momentum.

"People are really excited at getting on the cutting edge of getting rid of meth," Mayor Dave DeRose said. "There has to come a time when we stand up to this. When you ask people around this community, you'll find there are very few people who don't know somebody who's on meth."

According to law enforcement, about 80 percent of the crimes Craig police investigate are in some way related to meth use. A recent wave of training seminars outlining ways to identify meth manufacturing and the effects of the drug's use has prompted interest in stemming distribution here.

Recently, community leaders and law enforcement spearheaded the task force to give community members hands-on tactics to help curtail the drug's use in the community.

Fund-raising for the effort has produced at least $3,000, and DeRose said the Craig City Council probably will kick in more. The money will fund educational campaigns and billboard advertising, he said.

Sgt. Bill Leonard of the Craig Police Department said it's important for the community to become educated about the signs of meth use to help combat it.

"We're getting a lot more calls for community watch," he said. "In general, I think people can be our best resources toward fighting it."

Leonard advised people who suspect that there is meth manufacturing or use in their neighborhoods to keep their eyes open, take notes and record license plate numbers. That information can be turned over to police to help investigations, he said.

"We don't just want people to take action. They need to call us," he said.

"People need to understand that we have to work within the legal process to help stem this."

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