County: Meth findings scary

It was, in the words of one Moffat County commissioner, a frightening report on the damaging effect of methamphetamine abuse.

Describing the toll on families caused by meth abuse and the cost to local government, the annual report of the county's Social Services Department presented an alarming picture, Commissioner Darryl Steele said.

"It is very scary, and it isn't just our county," Steele said.

Commissioners got the report Tuesday from department Director Marie Peer and reacted by saying they would continue to support local anti-drug groups.

Citing one measure of meth's effect in the county, the report stated the cost of handling child-removal cases has risen from $29,000 in 2001 to $57,000 in 2005.

Peer told commissioners that about 75 percent of out-of-home placements are the result of meth abuse.

Although saying continued support for anti-drug programs is necessary, Steele also said that finding a solution to meth problems is a challenge.

"I don't know exactly how you do this politically," Steele said.

The county provides funding to Communities Overcoming Meth Abuse, a nonprofit that tries to raise awareness about meth addiction. In December, commissioners pledged $2,000 to the group.

The county also funds the Greater Routt and Moffat Narcotics Enforcement Team, a task force that works with local law enforcement officers. Commissioners gave the task force $53,000 for 2006 and pledged an additional $11,000 to the group earlier this month.

Commissioners said they hope the money for GRAMNET and COMA, as well as the money the county already spends on social services, helps combat meth abuse.

Commissioners also said the state and federal government need to be involved financially in fighting meth.

"The county by itself cannot do it," Commissioner Saed Tayyara said.

Commissioner Tom Gray said whatever governments do in response to meth problems, it is important that politicians don't just throw money at the problem.

When commissioners pledged money to COMA and GRAMNET, they told both groups that they expected returns on their investments.

Brandon Johansson can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 213, or bjohansson@craigdailypress.com.

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