COMA board votes to disband |

COMA board votes to disband

Board approves ending organization by Dec. 31, distributing assets

Ben McCanna

Board member Ron Schaeffer, right, makes a case for limiting the scope of the Communities Overcoming Meth Abuse group rather than disbanding it, while Thom Schnellinger looks on. The board voted 9-1 at its Wednesday meeting to dissolve the group by Dec. 31.

By a near unanimous vote, the Communities Overcoming Meth Abuse board voted Wednesday to dissolve the organization by Dec. 31.

The vote was 9-1 in favor of disbanding and dispersing its assets to other community groups. Board member Ron Schaeffer was the lone vote in opposition.

Schaeffer declined to comment on why he voted against dissolving the organization.

COMA, a local organization designed to eradicate methamphetamine use, was established in 2003. For almost eight years, the volunteer effort has raised meth awareness in the community through education, outreach and advertising.

But, board members cited a lack of new volunteers and a reduced need for education as reasons for ending the organization.

Craig Police Chief Walt Vanatta, who is also a COMA board member, said a lack of volunteers isn't unique to COMA.

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"Every community group I belong to is trying to get volunteers," Vanatta said. "It's virtually impossible, and if you go to community functions, it's the same group of people doing all of them, every single one."

Before Wednesday's vote, Schaeffer argued the organization should shrink the scale of its activities rather than disband.

"If we had just two things to do to continue as a skeleton organization, I think it should be the billboard and the (Not Even Once) awareness week," Schaeffer said. "Those two things are worth a lot to the community."

Vanatta responded that other organizations could carry on with COMA's work, and suggested Schaeffer join the Sub-

stance Abuse Prevention Program group.

"We would love to have you join that board," Vanatta said. "It's another spot for you to put your energy that accomplishes the same thing."

As to the education outreach COMA provides, several members suggested group members could continue educating the public without the organization.

COMA member Jessie Cramer said she and her husband, Tom, speak on the issue "daily."

Moffat County Sheriff Tim Jantz said the sheriff's office can also help fill the need.

"If people want information, as law enforcement we're going to continue that," Jantz said.

Jantz, who serves as COMA's treasurer, said the organization currently has assets of $10,300, supplies and equipment.

He said a portion of the organization's cash is needed to settle taxes, accountant fees and any outstanding balances with vendors. The rest, he said, could be distributed to organizations like SAPP, the Colorado Meth Project and other groups.

COMA chairman Joel Sheridan proposed the board withhold that decision until its final meeting Dec. 9, but there was unanimous agreement that COMA funds should go to similar organizations.

Although meth remains in the community, Sheridan said COMA has fulfilled the vision established at its first meeting.

"We said we wanted to rattle the chains and make sure the community knows there's a meth problem," he said. "I do think we rattled the chains and made noise and brought an awareness."

COMA activities coordinator Shirley Simpson has been with COMA since it formed.

"It's sad, but it's time," she said of the group dissolving.

As the organization's only paid employee, Simpson essentially voted Wednesday to terminate her position, which accounts for 30 hours per month.

"It's a strange person in this country who votes to end her own job, right?" she said.

Sheridan said he had mixed feelings about the board's action.

"A lot of these people have been here for a lot of years and a lot of meetings," he said. "And, we've accomplished a lot.

"At the same time, I'm comfortable it's the right decision."

The board will meet one last time Dec. 9 to disperse its remaining assets, and to celebrate its board and volunteers, both past and present.

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