Council urged to engage community to address drug-use issues

By on August 31, 2016
The Denver Volunteer Fire Company social hall was filled for the Denver Borough Council Monday, Aug. 29, meeting. Residents discussed community safety issues and urged council to facilitate some sort of citizen coalition. Photo by Alice Hummer

The Denver Volunteer Fire Company social hall was filled for the Denver Borough Council Monday, Aug. 29, meeting. Residents discussed community safety issues and urged council to facilitate some sort of citizen coalition. Photo by Alice Hummer

Difficult issues challenging Denver Borough brought more than 80 residents to the Monday, Aug. 29, council meeting held at the Denver Volunteer Fire Company hall to accommodate the attendees.

Concerns ran the gamut from belligerent teens and young adults who violate “Do Not Loiter” signs, preteens and teens on the streets after the 11 p.m. curfew to the national concern about drugs and addiction.

Kim Weaver, co-owner with her husband, Chad, of C. K Grill in downtown Denver, expressed her concern.

“I’ve seen 10 and 12 year-olds out at 1 and 2 a.m.,” she said. Although their business has signs posted ‘No loitering,’ it happens and the young adults are verbally abusive when asked to move, she added.

“Policing these issues is difficult,” said Cpl. Terry Arment, Officer-In-Charge for East Cocalico Police. “When you see teens out in the street past curfew, please call it in.”

Arment said he understood why some residents were reluctant to use 911 when their concern isn’t a life-threatening or other serious emergency.

“If you use the non-emergency police station number of 717-336-1725 during the day, the concern can be handled or transferred to an officer on duty,” he said. “After business hours calls to the non-emergency number go into Lancaster County Control.”

Several residents spoke to “shady stuff” and “drug deals” in the 200 to 300 block of Main Street. One resident suggested that with the vacant Denver House building for sale, the community should do what it can to insure that it becomes a more positive influence downtown. The empty building, which needs much property maintenance, contained short-term room rentals and a bar.

Lori Casanova, resident and high school counselor, spoke about drug use in the borough.

“We need to acknowledge the drug activity in Denver and the larger problem of addiction in the nation,” she said. “I’d like the community to do something and I’d be willing to work with others in the community.”

Several residents, as well as Councilman Mike Gensemer, spoke to the fact that the addiction epidemic strikes all kinds of homes.

“You can have a family where two children turn out to be great citizens, and one continually struggles with addiction issues,” he said.

Mayor Rod Redcay, whose work with youth and future activity plans was mentioned by Arment earlier in the meeting, said he’d be willing to help a community effort to address the issues mentioned.

Denver Planning Commission Chairman Fred Wagaman said he’d volunteer and suggested a community taskforce.

The comments of resident and businessman John Weaver were met with rousing applause.

“I’ve listened a long time,” he said. “One thing that’s needed is parents need to be parents, not the kid’s best friend. We want to push it (the problems residents mentioned) off on the school, or even the community.

“It starts at home. Most of the people here don’t need to hear this. We could run parenting classes and you still wouldn’t get the people who need it to come. We need to address in society right and wrong and stress what is right and what is wrong.”

Redcay commented on the book “Good to Great” which shows how culture is focused on personality and not character.

“We need to get back to character,” he said.

Councilman Todd Stewart said that the educational component is important.

“You have to know about what you’re talking,” he said. “The school should be in partnership with the community.”

Council President Blake Daub thanked residents for the good discussion.

“I urge you to attend the next council meeting to continue discussion,” he said, “and I’ll stay after the business meeting for anyone wanting to speak with me.”

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