Group’s goal: Send illegal drug users and sellers elsewhere

By Bob Steenson,

The goal is simple: Make Floyd County a place where people who use illegal drugs either get help and get clean, or move somewhere else.

The second public meeting and fifth meeting overall of a group looking at increasing recovery resources and changing the drug climate of Charles City and Floyd County discussed  a timeline for making changes Thursday afternoon.

The group talked about organizational issues, such as how to incorporate and whether to have separate groups for recovery resources and for the committee, and what to name the groups.

But much of the meeting, held at Jordan River on Main Street, dealt with goals and with the timeline.

“We should let everyone in the public know what the goals are for the group,” said leader Dave Holschlag.

“Our intention is never to point the fingers at the lack of what some people are doing to try to better our community. We want to work alongside law enforcement, the landlords, other organizations that are already in place to help recovering addicts,” he said.

“There’s things we can do to make it uncomfortable for drug dealers to come to Charles City,” Holschlag said.

Group member Denny Raab said, “One thing about this organization, this is not going to be something new. It’s going to use all the existing stuff that’s out there. If somebody needs recovery, say it’s meth or whatever, and they’re not keen with the idea of a 12-step program, or they’re not keen with the church, what we do is we have recovery people in there who know of these other organizations that we can send them to.”

“Or that we can create,” interjected the Rev. Debra Lincoln, a group member and pastor of Jordan River Church.

“Right. To channel them in the right direction,” Raab said.

Group member Charley Thomson, a Charles City attorney, said he has contacted an out-of-state full-spectrum treatment and recovery organization about the possibility of becoming involved in the Charles City effort, but has not heard back yet.

Thomson presented a timeline that he had worked on for the group. It featured three categories: reducing drug usage and culture, assisting in reduction of drug consumption and communicating about the group’s work.

What the group is doing, he said, “is letting the people who have no interest in stopping using (drugs) know that it’s going to get a whole lot harder to do it in Floyd County, and maybe they should consider another place of residence, and letting the people who are in the illicit drug distribution industry know the same thing.”

He said the group is looking at changes in local laws to make drug use in the home a safety issue, and in making it harder to get the materials needed to make drugs such as methamphetamine.

For example, he said, the city could require people to sign their name before purchasing gas-line antifreeze.

“That’s not going to be a huge disruption and possibly not beyond the power of the city to require that,” Thomson said. “We do a lot of things like that, pretty soon (other communities) are going to look more attractive for them.”

And such a requirement “would make it easier to track them,” said Holschlag about illegal drug users.

Required activities include identifying, drafting, circulating and enacting these types of laws, he said, “and I see this group having a role in all those phases.”

Under reducing consumption, Thomson said he envisions developing a list of sober activities, people who can make them happen and people who can keep them going.

“I call it the good clean fun community,” Thomson said. “We need a list of things that people in recovery can be doing that doesn’t involve escaping through meth or alcohol or heroin or whatever.”

Eventually, he said, the group wants to get it’s message across: “If you’re using, you have two choices: Seek recovery — and we’ll help — or depart. If you stay and continue to use it’s going to be really uncomfortable.”

Jay Hansen, executive director of Prairie Ridge treatment program in Mason City, said he fully supports what the group is doing, but he doesn’t see a need for additional treatment facilities.

He said what would be more valuable would be additional resources for after-treatment programs and identifying what people can do once they’re sober.

Capt. Brandon Franke of the Charles City Police Department, who was attending his first meeting of the group, said, “It’s great, the whole program. We’ve willing to help and to have you help us.”

The group plans another public meeting in two weeks and has invited more law enforcement officials to get involved.