Langlade County District Attorney holds community meeting on drug abuseSubmitted: 03/19/2018

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ANTIGO - A crowd gathered in Antigo to talk about drug abuse Monday night, about how it affects all aspects of the community and ways it could possibly be fixed.

One thing that everyone could agree on, is that it's an issue that needs to be resolved.

"We gotta get on this and solve it now," said Michael Hunter, who attended the event.

The drug abuse problem in Langlade County is growing.

"The felony case filings, the biggest increase we've seen is in possession of narcotic drugs and possession of methamphetamine," said Langlade County District Attorney Elizabeth Gebert. "So our time is completely, completely overwhelmed responding to this issue."

That's why Gebert held an event at Antigo High School to hear from the community.

"Trying to come together for all of us to creatively think about 'So how do we respond?' not just in the criminal justice, not just in the healthcare system, but as a whole," said Gebert.

Gebert, along with the county judge and sheriff, said that while they might be the ones on the justice system side of the problem, they aren't the only ones seeing it firsthand.

"We did a drug test, I lost 20 percent of my workforce," said Hunter, who works at Volm Companies.

"There's a trickle down effect and it affects the kids," said Antigo School District Nurse Darlaen Jansen.

But, there was at least one positive revealed at the meeting.

"Langlade County we are building momentum," said Gebert.

North Central Health Care, which is located in Wausau, plans to open a new addiction treatment center in Langlade County later this year.

"Obviously, Wausau is 45 minutes from here, and for somebody to attend treatment that's a huge obstacle to overcome, so by offering local resources hopefully they'll be able to attend and stay involved with their treatment plan," said North Central Health Care Chief Executive Officer Michael Loy.

It's something that both Gebert and the community is excited about.

"For the first time in the history on Langlade County, we will have treatment programs here," said Gebert.

"With Northcentral Health this is huge, and I just want to reiterate how huge that is," said one community member in attendance.

Though many different potential solutions were suggested at Monday's meeting, most everyone could agree that the whole community can be involved in solving the drug abuse problem.

"Getting to work together for something good, for something positive, I think it's a great step for us as a community," said Gebert.

Gebert says if you have ideas or would like to take an active role in the solution, you can contact her office at 715-627-6411.

Story By: Dakota Sherek

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