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November 17, 2010     Indian Valley Record
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November 17, 2010

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6A Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2010 Indian Valley Record Linda Satchwell Staff Writer This is the second in a two part series on the devastating effect of meth addiction. Part 2 looks at the alcohol and drug services Plumas County cur- rently offers, what more it could do and what a differ- ence these services make. This is not the story I'd hoped to write. After reporting the emotional story of one fam- ily's battle with meth addic- tion, in which Julie, the grand- mother, went to Family Court in Quincy to have her grand- children removed from her meth-addicted daughter's home, I hoped to tell you that various county services came together to offer drug testing, and that Mary, the daughter, was currently testing and on the road to regular visits with her children, custody and a life. But I'm not writing fiction, and the facts don't always conform to our imagination. One-half of the story is true, however. Adele Myers, court investigator for Family Court Services, contacted Tom Hayes, chief executive officer at Eastern Plumas Health Care in Portola, to see if they could work out an arrangement for testing at the hospital. After a couple of e-mails back and forth, Hayes said EPHC would offer this testing for the nominal sum of $10 a visit; the piece that had been missing for two years as the county grappled with the ramifications of closing its Alcohol and Drug Services was solved in 10 days. In the meantime, Julie filed for a restraining order this summer against her daugh- ter. She wanted to stop Mary from taking the children, Joel and Maya, on a whim instead of showing up for scheduled meetings. Julie said that Mary, whose personality has been hijacked by meth, would scream at her in front of the children if she were not al- lowed to take them when she showed up unannounced. A month later at their court hearing, Judge Janet Hilde didn't sign the restrain- ing order. 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According to her sister, Melanie, Mary started acting less volatile when she came over to see the children, at the day and time prescribed by Judge Hilde, but she never mentioned drug testing. But she didn't show up for the second court date, and Judge Hilde finally signed the restraining order that would keep her from seeing her chil- dren for three years. Myers noted, "Other orders can be made to modify (the restrain- ing order) to allow for visita- tion if, for instance, the par- ents' circumstances change and they begin testing." As a Family Court investi- gator, Myers sees firsthand the destruction that meth delivers to families. It re- plays again and again. The fact that Family Court has now offered free drug testing services to two people who have turned it down as a child custody contingency is sad but not surprising to her. It shows "how insidious drug addiction really is -- to give up your child for a substance is pretty telling," Myers said. Meth, she continued, is the worst drug she sees, "the most insidious, the most difficult to maintain a long- term recovery." Nearly all of her clients have to go through recovery numerous times. For addicts to successfully kick the habit, "There has to be comprehensive, wrap- around services." The entire family needs to be involved. They need counseling ser- vices, help taking care of their kids, and a variety of programs that offer support during their recovery. Outgoing district attorney Jeff Cunan sent a letter to the Plumas County Board of Supervisors informing them that the county has declined over $1 million in state and federal funds over the past two years. Further, Cunan contends that Plumas County is the only one of California's 58 counties that doesn't have an alcohol and drug program. During public comment at the Nov. 9 Board of Super- visors meeting, Cunan recom- mended the county take ad- vantage of the "approximate- ly $515,000 immediately avail- able to Plumas County for drug and alcohol services" for the 2010/2011 year if it ap points an alcohol and drug administrator. (See related story.) According to Myers, half a million dollars would make a huge difference. "Clearly, that's what this county needs," she said. "An experienced drug and alcohol treatment profes- sional to set up the.., infra- structure so services aren't duplicated. Treatment groups, a good solid drug test- ing policy in effect, utilized by all the agencies --that money could be easily funding that... The drug and alcohol program before wasn't great, but throw- ing it out isn't serving people's needs, especially where there's money available. I'm astounded." Myers echoed Judge Ira Kaufman, who hears the county's juvenile cases. He said that well over 50 percent of the kids in foster care are fallout from their parents' meth use. The closing of Alcohol and Drug Services has had a devastating effect on these children and their families -- and, finally, on society as a whole, since 40 percent of foster kids will end up home- less or in jail. Myers said the community needs to realize what a serious problem meth is in Plumas County, "It's really bad stuff," she said. "When they shut down a lab, they have to send Hazmat in there, it's so toxic. It's incredibly addictive... A 30-year-old will look 60. You basically surrender everything." The fact that, when addicts get to a certain point in their recovery, they want to keep drug testing is testament to: the positive power of testing She's had recovering ad- dicts ask to keep drug testing three or four times a week, said Myers. Their minds have cleared of the drug to the point where they see how much they stand to lose. They want somebody looking over their shoulder. Plus, testing is "a valuable treatment tool. The client has tangible, measurable prooff' that they're working hard and "it's paying off." CREATE A FESTIVE MOOD WITHOUT LIFTING A FINGER. This holiday season, receive a$50 mail-in rebate with your purchase of select Hunter Douglas window fashions with patented PowerRise or PowerGlide motorized systems. Precisely adjust your shades by remote control and set the mood for any occasion. Ask for details. ALMANOR FLOORING, INC. 604 Main St., Chester, CA (530) 258-2893 Mon-Fri 9am-5pm Sat 10am-3pm St. Cont. Uc. #649902 *Rebate offer valid for pur~ made 9/25/10-12/15/10. Limitations and restdctioos apply. Ask for details. 02010 Hunter Doublan. and TM am trademarks of Hunter Douglas. Myers praised EPHC for setting up a system for drug testing. It will be used even- tually, and it will make a difference, she said. In her restraining order, Julie said she included her whole family history, which includes multi-generational meth use. The way users think, if you're not using with them, you're against them, she said. This helps explain why one family member will introduce another to the drug. Julie reiterated that her biggest motivator is keeping her grandchildren off of meth. She said she works to give them the tools to be able to say no in the future, and she's honest with them about their parents' drug use. Also, it was a wake-up call to them when their mother allowed her uncle and his family to move into the chil- dren's old house. The place had stood empty and Mary would sometimes take Joel and Maya there during visits: Their bedrooms still ap- peared to be waiting for them to return. Now, it's home to meth addicts. According to Julie, her oldest grandchild, Joel, said, "I can't believe my mom gave our house away ... we're never going home, are we?" When asked why she thinks Mary didn't chose to drug test this time, Julie said, "She's adjusted to the situation. She's comfortable that (the children) are with me, happy and taken care of. Short of Mary being arrested and put in jail ... Death or jail, noth- ing else will stop her." Julie said her focus contin- ues to be her grandchildren's well-being. She tells herself, "What you're doing is what you need to do." After the first article of this series appeared, she said she received a phone call from a grandmother whose own daughter had been on drugs. She lost custody of her chil- dren, and she's been clean for seven months. This grand- mother said, "I admire you... the only thing I can say, Julie, is maybe you will save a child's life." council Diana Jorgenson Portola Editor A newly vacant seat on Portola's City Council before the votes were even dry on two other seats brought a number of citizens to the reg- ular meeting Nov. 10. Some of them wanted to be considered for the position; some of them wanted to know why the position had not been on the ballot. Sorting it out was a cumbersome process. At issue were the two years remaining on Bill Kennedy's term and whether to fill the vacancy by special election or by appointment by the council. Council member Bill Kennedy was not present; al- though his resignation took effect the day following the meeting. He was in his new home in Oregon, had planned to attend his final meeting, but snowstorms in the Cascades prevented him. All four of the other members were in attendance, Juliana Mark, high vote getter in the election, was in the audience but would not be sworn in until the election had been certified. Incumbent candidate Curt McBride had edged out his fellow incum- bent by only three votes, and incumbent Mayor John Larrieu expressed his desire to pursue a council seat via Kennedy's vacancy and recused himself from dis- cussions. City attorney Steve Gross explained the options: that the earliest a special election could be held would be in March and that it would cost approximately $8,000, or if the council decided to appoint, it would have to do so within 30 days. New legislation in January would extend the period to 60 days, which would match the period allowed for special districts, but current law would only give the council 30 days, or by default, it would need to hold a special election. Council members William Weaver and Curt McBride were not in favor of spending the money. ........ Citizen ,Larry~Douglas dis- agreed: "This.-is an elected position, not one appointed by the city council. To me, this (appointment) is wrong... You spend money on other things. This is something you have to do, so it's 'by the people.'" Mike Matus, another Portola resident, thought that the res- ignation so close to the election brought up the appearance of impropriety. He thought that someone who was moving must have known much further in advance. Mayor Pro Tem Dan Wilson defended Kennedy in his absence, giving Kennedy's reasons for wanting to be See Vacant, page 7A M A DE EASY Don't forget Thanksgiving! Clothing Jewelry Accessories Gift Certificates Available We are here for you! Open 7 days for your convenience Mon-Sat 10am-5pm Sun 10am-4pm Hwy 89 Crescent Mills 284-6016