Community response to drug abuse: What’s next?

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I attended the Northfield LWV’s 4th Monday Forum at the library last night, where four members of the Mayor’s Task Force on Youth Alcohol & Drug Use presented (right photo, L to R: Joan Janusz, Kathy Cooper, Kathy Sandberg, and Susan Sanderson). About 15-20 people were in the audience. Part of the purpose of the meeting was to discuss what’s next.

Members of the Union of Youth staff and board held a planning meeting tonight at The Key, as a follow-up to their forum last week (notes from that meeting now blogged on their site here).

So let’s use this blog post as a place to keep track of what’s being planned and accomplished in the community as a response to the drug abuse issues that have been raised recently.

If you or your organization has related documents (PDFs, Word docs, Powerpoints, etc) that you’d like to make available to people, please try to get them posted on another website/blog and then link to them here. Otherwise, upload them to me via my website’s upload form here and I’ll post them here in the comment thread. It’s a good way to get your message out, as we’ve been getting between 200-500 people (unique visitors) per day for past two weeks.


  1. Christine Stanton said:

    I am copying my post from the “Feedback Wanted” column here because I feel it better pertains to this column. We are moving on and yes, Griff, trying to “pull together(!)”

    The Northfield Mayor’s Task Force on Drug and Alchohol Abuse was stated in the spring of 2006 because of the data that was collected by the State of Minnesota and the PCN surveys. Both of these surveys were given to Northfield students.

    The Rice County Public Health Services began the Rice County Chemical Health Coalition (Project Prevention) to address the problem. This coalition began in 2004.

    More information on both of these efforts can be found on the HCI website.
    (See second paragraph on home page to click on PDF or Word document.)

    After being at one of their meetings and hearing representatives from the Mayor’s Task Force speak at the League of Women Voters meeting last night, I have been very impressed by their efforts to collaborate with multiple resources and their implementations thus far. The ZAP program is one example. If you do not know what the ZAP program is, I encourage you to visit the HCI website and links to find out more.

    July 24, 2007
  2. Griff Wigley said:

    Thanks, Christine. I do wish the HCI and the Task Force and the Rice Cty Chem Health Coalition would use the web more. Other than a couple of comments by Zach and Kathy here and a post on, no one is really engaging with the kids and the community via online discussion. 15-20 people showed at the LWV/library event last night and none of that discussion got captured/can be leveraged easily. There’s probably over 1,000 people a day showing up here on LG and combined and they’re not taking advantage of it.

    Maybe you can influence them!

    July 24, 2007
  3. Christine Stanton said:

    I will work on that Griff. 🙂

    July 24, 2007
  4. Christine Stanton said:

    Sorry. That link does not work. Griff, can you help? It is the Feb. 2006 issue of the City Commons newsletter.

    July 24, 2007
  5. Yvette Marthaler said:


    I am a member of the Rice County Chemical Health Coalition Provider Team. I have been following the discussions on locally.grown but the reason I do not “blog” is because confidentiallity and respect for all views are the most important values I bring to my job. Members of the coalition are working very hard in Northfield to help people who are suffering from the disease of chemical dependency. As stated above, the website is a very valuable source of information

    July 25, 2007
  6. Christine Stanton said:

    I just received this email.

    Subject: SAVE THE DATE – AUGUST 9TH 7:00PM @ The Armory

    Hello to all of you who are on the Key’s “drug” mailing list. I am asking you to please save the date of August 9th 7:00pm at the Armory for the next step in The Key’s drug discussion. The next step is going to be very action oriented. Details will be forthcoming in the next few days and expect a large marketing campaign to go with this. Tell any groups or people that you feel should be there and tell your friends and neighbors. This should be a community (action) meeting and we are hoping for a major turnout. Your task (and others) should be to think of a specific solution that would help deal with Northfield’s drug problem. EVERYONE will have a voice! Please forward this email.

    Josh Hinnenkamp
    Executive Director
    Northfield Union of Youth (The Key)

    July 25, 2007
  7. Griff Wigley said:

    Thanks, Christine. I fixed one link but your others are working fine.

    Yvette, thanks for chiming in. Delighted to have you here. I understand the need to be careful for confidentiality reasons. But if information being tossed about here is in direct conflict with what you and Coalition believe, why not challenge it and then link to the documents/resources on your websites to encourage people to explore more?

    July 25, 2007
  8. Kathy Sandberg said:

    Just a quick comment about what has been submitted recently. The Rice County Chemical Health Coalition and its Action Teams, including the Northfield Mayor’s Task Force on Youth Alcohol and Drug use are very eager to do what we can to help bring people together around responding to the issues of youth alcohol and drug use. As noted by others, the HCI website contains some good information: the resource directory, an update on all the Action Teams, and a way to find out other actions being taken and get involved. Because the Coaltion and its Action Teams are comprised of many people who are either volunteers or who add this work to their existing positions, and because the recent media focus on Northfield has created so much work, we are not always able to respond to every suggestion or every request as quickly as folks might like. What I would ask is that you bear with us and stay in communication with us. While we are very appreciative of the discussion being generated by Locally Grown, we often have to make choices about which of the miriade of requests we can respond to in a given day. Please know that the Coalition and the Task Force are eager to work with anyone who is interested in working for and with our youth on this important issue.

    July 25, 2007
  9. Alex Beeby said:

    The Key’s August 9 event at the Armory should be well worth going to. It will be very action oriented. I, too, encourage anyone who wants to get involved in solutions to come.

    To reiterate, it is my substantiated understanding that the plan for this meeting is to move from debating the issue to proposing and begin work on solutions.

    July 25, 2007
  10. Christine Stanton said:

    Hey, I think I found out a way to revive a conversation! This is from the July archives. Let’s see if this comment gets “sensored.”

    I know how politicians get accused of creating ” new news” that will take the focus away from them when they involved in a controversy. It seems that, in our case, the “new news” that has taken the focus away from the drug issues in Northfield is about political controversies! Hmmm.. It makes one wonder who is really in power, the pushers or the politicians.

    Seeing as we seem to have become so good at speculation, I could not help adding this.

    July 30, 2007
  11. Alex Beeby said:

    For a positive spin, maybe it’s best that the heat has turned down a little, because it will help us move to the action stage and avoid so much of the hysterics. This is perfect, because the Key is hosting a solutions meeting next week (as mentioned above).

    Here are more details from an invitation just sent out:

    The Key will be hosting a “Community Action” meeting on Thursday, August 9th at 7:00pm at the Northfield Armory. This meeting is a “call-to-action” for the Northfield community in response to recent headlines and discussions of heroin and other chemical use in our community. We intend to create a roadmap for working on these complex issues by allowing ANY member of our community to propose an action-oriented solution. Please begin thinking about what you believe is the most important path to prevention and/or treatment in Northfield. For instance, if you believe the most important need is more realistic drug education in the schools, or a parental support group, or specific treatment options, you will be given the opportunity to present that idea (in about a minute) to the larger group. After the presentations conclude, we will break into smaller groups, with each presenter facilitating a discussion of his/her idea. Members of the community can join any group they wish, and can rotate between groups to participate in multiple discussions. Again, as a presenter you do not have to know how to get from point A to point B. The purpose of the meeting is to get people together who want to work on the same solution. Our hope is that out of this meeting will come various enthusiastic committees that are working on some real action to make Northfield a better, safer place. EVERYONE is encouraged to come and participate. Even if you have no idea what the answers are, please come and listen to some options and join in one or more discussions. If you have an idea, but you need a little guidance before presenting it, you can email, or come to the Armory at 6:30 for some assistance prior to the meeting. In the future, the Key will be available to help put committees in contact with resources in order keep their action moving forward. We will also host regular meetings for committee representatives, allowing the opportunity for members of various groups to share their struggles and their progress, and to find any common solutions.

    Please join us on Thursday, August 9th at 7:00pm, and encourage anyone you know to attend. Everyone of all ages are welcome. Call Josh at 507-301-9662, or email with any questions.

    Josh Hinnenkamp – Executive Director

    Amy Merritt – Volunteer
    Northfield Union of Youth

    July 30, 2007
  12. Christine Stanton said:

    Thanks for you post, Alex. I was not trying to create more spin. After all, the title of this conversation is “Community Response to Drug Abuse: What’s next?” Maybe one of the reasons there have not been more posts is because the question does not provoke “spin.” Your posting from the Key is exactly what we need to keep constructive conversation active.

    I will do my best to report on the efforts of the Mayor’s Task Force.

    Because there is so much to do, and most of the work is done by volunteers, I know it is very difficult to get the information out at times. Still, I would encourage any group working on the issue to make a post.

    Thanks, Alex, for taking the time to remind us about the meeting. 🙂

    July 30, 2007
  13. Christine Stanton said:

    This is just a reminder about the meeting at the Armory tonight at 7:00 hosted by the Key.

    August 9, 2007
  14. Skulls and Flowers
    by Bright Spencer

    She painted skulls and flowers
    Around her neck and face.
    She had waited many hours
    Which turned into many days.

    Although her life was slower
    It was never all that bleak
    Til she met a man who showed her
    The way to the streets of grief.

    He said, “Come here, sweetheart,
    Let me show you my wares,
    “I’ve got crack, horse, candy,
    They can take away your cares.”

    “All the lonely nights will fill up
    With people just like you, yes, yes,
    They’ll all come back to me for more,
    You see, they always do.”

    If only she could be truly free
    From the things that grab her head,
    If only she would take care
    Of her own fragile world instead.

    She could move past many problems
    That would wound her ’til half dead.
    No, it’s not about what the man said,
    It’s not about the lies we are fed.

    August 11, 2007
  15. Griff Wigley said:

    Today’s Nfld News: Schools won’t use drug dogs right now, officials say

    Drug-sniffing dogs, random drug testing, locker searches – there a dozens of tactics the Northfield High School could use this fall to single out drug use at the school. But school officials say they aren’t about to turn to those measures yet.

    The school drug counselor, Sarah Shippy, will increase her time in the schools from one day to two days a week. She’ll continue to have one-on-one and group training with the staff on how to teach current and effective health education.

    One of the high school’s main tactics has been to make sure every student has at least one staff member in the building that they would consider a trusted adult… A list of the all the high school students was actually compiled and staff were asked to note which students they felt connected to… Those students who no staff member knew were highlighted as those for staff to make a conscious effort to connect with.

    Another main initiative the high school employs is the Student Support Team. A group of about a dozen high school counselors, administrators, the police liaison and the drug counselor meet weekly to talk about specific students who might need attention.

    Leer will present an overview of key drug prevention efforts the high school will be taking this fall at the Northfield Board of Education’s next meeting at 7 p.m. Monday in the high school’s media center

    August 25, 2007
  16. David Ludescher said:

    We haven’t heard what, if any, efforts are being made by the colleges. Nor, have we heard whether or not the colleges believe that they have a drug and alcohol problem.

    September 10, 2007
  17. Curt Benson said:

    According to the Strib, in the article linked below, Chaska has passed the state’s first ordinance making people criminally liable for allowing underage drinking on their property.

    I was under the impression that the ZAP program, used a couple times lately here in Rice County does the same thing. It appears that the distinction is that the ZAP program goes after the adult providers of alcohol, whereas the Chaska law is aimed more at those who allow drinking on their property, and isn’t so concerned with where the alcohol comes from. Can anyone clarify this? Does Northfield/Rice County have a need for such a law?

    September 11, 2007
  18. Griff Wigley said:

    Curt Benson posted a great summary of what’s been done in response to the heroin problem in a some unrelated discussion so I thought I’d replicate it here.

    … Many groups, such as the HCI, The Key, The Mayor’s Task Force, the school district and others have taken leadership roles and good things are starting to happen. I think that because the actions are really just starting, the community is not as aware of them as they could be. Here’s a few things that I know of. Other actions are in the planning phase.

    Two local physicians have been trained to administer bupenorphrine(sp?) in Northfield. Until now, recovering addicts have had to travel to the Twin Cities weekly to get this drug which is very useful in reducing cravings, making recovery easier.

    The school system is working on making its alcohol/chemical abuse education programs more effective. For example, next week, young people in recovery will be speaking in the high school’s health classes. They are from the “Know the Truth” group.

    The school system doubled the hours of Sara Shippy, who provides them with chemical dependency treatment services.

    The ZAP program (which was in place prior to this summer’s drug crisis) has been used locally and has been publicized.

    There will be a community meeting at the middle school October 30th titled “After the headlines”. It is meant for the whole community, not just those involved with the schools. It will have Carol Falkowski for a keynote speaker and several other “breakout” sessions with other speakers. The HCI is going to pass out information on this meeting at the conferences scheduled at the high school Monday and Tuesday. So I’m sure more details will be forthcoming.

    I think one big piece that is missing is getting new leadership for the Northfield Police department. Anne, as you say, the chief has been out for three months. Now it seems as if his health problems will prevent his return for maybe another three months, maybe longer. Is it reasonable to have a police department without a chief for six or more months in a city with a big drug problem?

    I have a hard time imagining the Smith’s return will be smooth. After all, he’s trying to put his boss behind bars. (I have no way to know if Smith’s charges are justified.) He’s surely alienated his staff even more now that he’s publicly blaming them for some of the more embarrassing elements of his press conference.

    October 15, 2007
  19. Curt Benson said:

    Griff, thanks for reposting that summary in a better place.

    There is another thing to add to the list. I got an email from Zach Pruitt this morning announcing an adolescent outpatient treatment group for Rice County youth ages 13-17 dealing with substance use issues. It is starting on November 6th. You can call Omada Behavioral Heath Services for details. I recall that one of the suggestions at the Key meeting was to have meetings away from the school available, as some students felt self conscious about being seen going in to see Sara Shippy at the school. This group will be meeting at Omada after school.

    Anne, you commented in another thread about the need for more publicity about these efforts and included some helpful suggestions. You’re right, of course. I know efforts are being concentrated in that area now, and you’re sure to hear more about the positive responses that Northfield is making soon.

    October 16, 2007
  20. Griff Wigley said:

    Curt, I saw the poster for the Oct 30 meeting with Carol Falkowski from Hazelden. Is the PDF of that poster available on the web for us to link to it, or can you email it to me so I can post it here?

    October 17, 2007

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