Our view: Wide awake about meth | CraigDailyPress.com

Our view: Wide awake about meth

C.O.M.A. is an interesting name for the anti-meth task force.

The acronym suggests our community has been asleep for a long time and that, even awake, we’re debilitated and trying to get healthy.

If we are, indeed, a community waking up from a drug-induced coma, then the Communities Overcoming Methamphetamine Abuse (C.O.M.A.) task force, has made remarkable strides in a short period of time.

From its initial meeting Oct. 5, when more than 100 people showed up to learn more about the meth problem in Moffat County, to recent presentations and fundraisers, the C.O.M.A. committees have done a nice job of sustaining a grassroots effort to make meth the community’s top concern.

“As I said in the first meeting, this is not just a law enforcement problem, it’s a social economic problem nationwide,” said C.O.M.A. executive board member Annette Gianinetti.

The committee has succeeded in communicating the idea that meth is a community problem and therefore requires a community solution. We can’t depend solely on law enforcement to prosecute the problem away.

To that end, C.O.M.A. has enlisted the support of dozens of people who want to make a difference.

“The community has been wonderful,” Gianinetti said. “Business owners have been fabulous.”

Business owners helped raise money last month during a clever “Beware the goat” campaign. C.O.M.A has collected $2,240 from its efforts, and local government entities have kicked in $4,100.

“It’s not enough; we know that. But it’s a start.” Gianinetti said.

C.O.M.A. leaders said they want to raise funds to complete a four-part mission of identifying, educating, rehabilitating and eradicating meth use in the community. The group has printed pamphlets and stickers to advertise its cause.

Members want to curb meth use by funding anti-drug awareness billboards, supplying educational resources to area schools and establishing a matching-dollar fund for grant applications that could help establish rehabilitation programs.

“I’m receiving phone calls from family members,” Gianinetti said. “They’re really hoping we get something done. They have hit brick walls when try to find rehab services for family members.”

Recently, C.O.M.A. leaders met with area employers to gauge their willingness to support C.O.M.A.’s mission. Unfortunately, only a few showed up for the meeting.

We found that disappointing, because meth abuse can have a huge effect in the workplace.

But Gianinetti said she wasn’t discouraged.

Most employers are well aware how drugs can affect their bottom lines, Gianinetti said.

Rather than simply asking for money from the county’s biggest employers, the committee wanted employers to see how the services and resources the task force is working to establish can be a benefit to them.

“It may be something we need to meet with them on individually,” Gianinetti said. “We need more than money here. We need concerns. We need to be aware of issues. That’s why this is a grassroots effort.”

C.O.M.A leaders also are putting together an initiative to have volunteers track meth-related court cases through the system to see what kind of sentences are meted out and whether the majority of cases involve first-time offenders or repeat offenders.

We’re impressed with the way the executive committee has divvied up the responsibilities and executed its game plan so far.

But the battle against meth won’t be won overnight.

As Moffat County Sheriff Buddy Grinstead noted: “The main thing is we want to help keep this going.

“This needs to be in place five years from now. If we want to eradicate (meth), we need to be a long-standing task force.”

The next meeting is at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Boys and Girls Club of Craig.

If you want to be part of the solution, plan to attend.

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