April 21, 2014

Medina
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66°F

Lodi residents gather to seek answers to drug problem

After an Ashland youth was found unconscious from a heroin overdose in a car on River Street in Lodi on Jan. 31, a frustrated village Police Chief Keith Keough took to Facebook to appeal for help.

“If you are the parent of an addict, let’s enact a little tough love on them instead of enabling them to get worse,” Keough wrote. “I realize we will not arrest away the problem, but what’s the alternative?”

Lenny Hrovat, of Alternative Paths Medina, left, speaks Wednesday to residents about Lodi's drug problem at the Lodi American Legion Hall. Taking part in a panel discussion were Deb Bican, the district prevention coordinator for Cloverleaf Schools’ District Community Prevention Coalition; Medina County Drug Task Force Director Gary Hubbard; residents Rebecca Watts and Chad Eaden; and Lodi Police Chief Keith Keough.  (GAZETTE PHOTO BY DAN POMPILI)

Lenny Hrovat, of Alternative Paths Medina, left, speaks Wednesday to residents about Lodi’s drug problem at the Lodi American Legion Hall. Taking part in a panel discussion were Deb Bican, the district prevention coordinator for Cloverleaf Schools’ District Community Prevention Coalition; Medina County Drug Task Force Director Gary Hubbard; residents Rebecca Watts and Chad Eaden; and Lodi Police Chief Keith Keough. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY DAN POMPILI)

The Facebook post received so much reaction that more than 25 residents got together Wednesday at the Lodi American Legion Hall, 120 Bank St., to search for answers.

“The drug culture in Lodi was going on long before I got here,” Keough told the audience. “I think I’ll be gone a long time before this town is known for anything other than its drug problem.”

He said the problem really became apparent three years ago when a 15-year-old Lodi girl died of an overdose in Homer Township.

More recent events like the overdose of a Lodi girl in West Salem only keep the problem fresh in residents’ minds.
Keough said he has been at a loss to solve the problem.

A panel of experts Wednesday included Deb Bican, the district prevention coordinator for Cloverleaf Schools’ District Community Prevention Coalition; Medina County Drug Task Force Director Gary Hubbard; and Lenny Hrovat of Alternative Paths Medina, as well as Keough and two residents.

The greatest concern residents expressed was the lack of readily accessible treatment programs for addicts.

Hubbard and Hrovat said residents need to demand that county and state officials to loosen the purse strings on taxpayer money allocated for drug abuse intervention to fund more treatment centers.

Officials also criticized the prison and judicial system for slapping dealers on the wrist with probation to keep prisons free for more violent offenders.

“I believe in treatment and education for some people but not for all of them,” Hubbard said.

Hubbard said the county had 20 drug deaths in 2013 and since 2008 the county and state have had more deaths from drugs than car crashes.

He said law enforcement is making some difference, because the threat of being caught with drugs in Medina County is higher than in surrounding areas, which has driven up the price of drugs.

But residents and officials agree addicts will find a way to get their fix and law enforcement cannot solve the problem entirely.

Many in attendance signed up to be part of a specialized subgroup of the Cloverleaf Community Prevention Coalition that would focus specifically on Lodi.

Members will undergo training and hold workshops to learn more about drug abuse and work with local officials to prevent and treat drug use.

Chad Eader, one of the members of Wednesday’s panel and one of the meeting’s organizers, volunteered to chair the new committee.

Eader himself is a recovering addict, six years clean from painkillers.

“I recovered from it and I’m lucky, I’m still alive, and I try to do things to help solve the problem,” he said.

Contact reporter Dan Pompili at (330) 721-4012 or dpompili@medina-gazette.com.

  • FollowMe

    Apparently the mayor has well-behaved and trouble-free children. As the mother of a drug addicted adult child there is very little that works, tough love included. Addiction is a terrible thing to deal with at home, particularly when the parent doesn’t have resources (money) to assist with professional help.

  • Joe

    The treatment program needs to be merciful, but also one that is just and gets results. If somebody repeatedly fails to get their act together, others shouldn’t have to repeatedly pay for it. In Singapore, severe drug offenders are put to death. Maybe they know something we don’t.

  • Nick Bianco

    Its driven up the price of drugs so its successful?? Really?? So the same people r gettn the same drugs, jus payn more 4 it, which leads 2 more crime 2 pay the higher price.
    Driving up the price is ALL theyve done. Treatment, not law enforcement, is the issue.

  • mike

    I was born in Lo raised in Medina. I remember coming homeon leave from the navy in th early 60s and one of my buddies said that he was going to Lodi and asked if wanted o go long. I remember pulling into the Legion parking, where you people met and some guy coming up to my car and my buddy got out and they went farther down the lot money was exchanged for a small packet of POT. I was a little stunned by this and asked my friend what the heck s going on. He said that everybody in the county knew that Lodi was the place to find drugs because oft
    he OOO Truck stop. There was another place on 18 East of Medina called the Roadway in where trucker stopped and dropped their goodies. But Lodi was the Hot Spot. I don’t know why it only became apparent recently (3 years) or is that the first time that someone OD’d and died? I lived in Lodi for several yrs after retiring from the Navy Living on N. Academy at 105 and my neighbors at107 or 109, Rice lived the corner, throwing pot parties all the tim, een inviting my wife and I to one Sat pm get together and passing joints around, when my wife tried to usethe joint to light her Salem they realized how square we were n sort of shunned us the rest ofhe party.
    I can say this, I have had my battles with Alcohol and prescription drugs, being SOBER almost 24 years now, In fact my sobriety started above the Police station in April of 1990I have never tried The so called recreational drugs. No Lodi your problem is not a new problem, it has jut taken on different dimensions.
    Treatment and education s the answer. Family members are very much affected by these addictions and need treatment as well. But as long as our fearless leaders keep cutting these items from the budget as well as funding for mental health. If you look in the Diagnostic Manual for Mental Illness, Guess what is in there? Addiction to Alcohol and Drugs. They are all classified