Get help or get out

COMA reaffirms commitment to drug fight

Joel Sheridan, a member of a local drug prevention group, has a simple way of spelling out exactly what his organization wants from addicts.

"If you want help, we're here for you," said Sheridan, assistant superintendent of the Moffat County School District and a member of the Communities Overcoming Meth Abuse group. "If you don't want help, we want you to leave town."

COMA members said Friday they are making progress in the ongoing effort to rid the area of the dangerous and highly addictive drug.

The group, which is approaching its two-year anniversary in the fall, met Friday at the Holiday Inn with media and court officials.

COMA director Annette Dun--ckley said the group will continue to battle drugs, and the problem of methamphetamine remains more of a community issue than a law enforcement problem.

With a number of projects in the community, COMA is becoming widely known in Northwest Colorado and Wyoming.

COMA is responsible for a Craig billboard, located on the west side of town, showing the effects methamphetamine has on a drug user. Also, the group successfully lobbied the city to pass an ordinance that stipulated local stores carrying products with key ingredients found in meth store medicine behind the counter.

They have held classes in schools and with after-school groups to inform children about the dangers of the drug.

In the fall, COMA will again host training for employers in spotting and dealing with methamphetamine in the workplace.

Sheridan said membership in the organization is growing and he nicknamed the COMA group "compassionate eradicators."

Sheridan said the group wants to keep the issue in the public eye. They are working on finding resources for people who need help fighting the drug.

District Attorney Bonnie Roesink said who even though federal funding cuts reduced the number of grants for drug court training from 100 to 40, she recently received federal money to help fight the local problem. The grant will pay for 10 drug court officials to travel to Los Angeles in October and receive training.

Roesink also defended the practice of entering into plea bargains with drug offenders. The plea bargains are used on a case-by-case basis, she said. She added that they also help to lighten a heavy court load bogged down by a series of cases stemming from Dec. 2005, in which several offenders were arrested on meth charges.

She said her office will "push hard," to prosecute any dealers arrested.

Dunkley said COMA has scheduled a presentation for August 26 and 27 with Dr. Mary Holley, the author of the book, "Crystal Meth: They Call It Ice."

On August 28, a special presentation for medical personnel will address what medical staff can report in regards to births that show methamphetamine is present.

COMA has had its 24-hour information phone line up and running for the past two-months at 824-COMA. A voicemail will take messages, and calls will be returned as soon as possible, Dunckley said.

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