Selectmen: Time to Revisit Drug Control Efforts

Board, town manager cite recent deaths as call to action.

Reading’s board of selectmen Tuesday said that now may be the time for the town to revisit its efforts to address substance abuse in the community.

“A few years ago [we] began to undertake efforts to combat the scourge of substance abuse,” said Selectman Ben Tafoya. “This might be a time when we need to reinvigorate [them].”

Tafoya’s comments follow a span during which two Reading residents were gunned down in eight days as the result of disputes that investigators believe may have been drug related.

On Monday, Aug. 15, a gunman, , 25, of Revere, , 22, in his 3 Lawrence Road home. On Monday, Aug. 22 an as-yet unidentified gunman , 33, of Reading while he was in a car in Lawrence.

“Tragedy happens all the time,” said Chairwoman Camille Anthony. “We seem to have just been really hitting a lot of it.”

The town previously responded to the issue of drug use in the community by securing a 2007 grant to found the . The coalition describes its mission as “to promote a healthy community environment [and] to address our problem that a significant number of youth in Reading, MA use alcohol, drugs, and tobacco.”

Members of the board of selectmen said Tuesday that RCASA enjoyed energetic participation in its first years, but has since seen attendance at meetings trail off. Some meetings, said Town Manager Peter Hechenbleikner, have drawn fewer than ten audience members.

“What that says to me is that the community doesn’t believe it has a problem,” Hechenbleikner said. “They can’t still think that.”

The coalition’s next annual meeting, Hechenbleikner said, will be held on Sept. 29, and he expects the town’s recent losses to shape the agenda.

“We hope people come out,” he said.

Cheryl Buono August 27, 2011 at 03:27 PM
Haven't heard about "good ole" Joe G lately. Remember innocent until proven guilty. HE does have a lot of friends in town. Haven't heard from any parents either on what they found on their kids phones. I wonder how many were suprised to see who was listed on the contact list.
Reading girl September 02, 2011 at 09:48 PM
Hammertime, I could not agree more!!! Weed your own garden, great line!!! It has been proven the the D.A.R.E. program was a complete waste of money. Sure it got the town extra funds & some got a fancy new cruiser but it did not work. Maybe an anonymous hotline would help with confidential information that could lead to arrests. Just a thought. There also needs to be available rehab. Right now there is a very long wait for a bed in a rehab facility. We can send BILLIONS to other countries who hate us, maybe it is time to spend some $ to help our children.
Reading girl September 02, 2011 at 09:53 PM
Gregory...I feel your pain. Unfortunately sometimes it takes a double tragedy, like we just had, to get the wheels in motion. I for one have not forgotten all the people who have died from drugs in our town. I do not have an answer but hopefully the community will come together & think of one. If it just saves one life it will be worth it.
Reading girl September 02, 2011 at 09:54 PM
Reading girl September 02, 2011 at 10:00 PM
Unfortunately one of the most popular gateway drugs is ALCOHOL, which is legal.


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