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Marathon County Launches Drug Abuse CampaignSubmitted: 05/07/2013
Story By Lex Gray


WAUSAU - Michael Dixon died in a car crash.

Richie Vue faces charges for killing his girlfriend, Kou Thao for shooting, beheading, and disemembering a man.

We've told you about these three stories before - they happened in Marathon County, but they have more in common than that.

All three involve opiate drug abuse and represent a much bigger problem in the community.

Today, law encorcement and other groups launched the "Pushback Against Drug Abuse" campaign in Wausau.

Community leaders want people to know that drugs like heroin, meth, and oxycontin don't affect just the user - they affect EVERYONE.

"Overall as we compare and track our service calls, we are about 14 percent ahead compared to last year," Wausau Police Chief Jeff Hardel said. "So it's just generated so much more work for all of our officers and detectives. It's hard too keep up at this point."

Hardel says competition among drug dealers is increasing.

They're buying or stealing guns to intimidate each other.

That's why responding to a "shots fired" call is now common for Wausau Police.

"We've had so many of our high profile cases, homicides, aggravated assaults, robberies, etc., that have a very strong drug influence," Hardel said. "In other words, they're committing a crime because of their drug addiction."

The Pushback Against Drug Abuse campaign will continue at a June 4 meeting.

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EAGLE RIVER - After a year of revisions, Northland Pines High School will start a new policy in December, drug testing some of its students. 

The school board voted and approved the new policy earlier this week.

For District Administrator Mike Richie, this is a way to stay proactive, helping both parents and students to avoid drug addiction.

"If there is a problem how we can prevent that problem, how can we get students to realize that this problem can only get worse as they get older and continue into the work force," said Richie.

 "I think we're going above and beyond, and I think that we need to help and assist parents this is a problem that exists all over, it's not just a Northern Wisconsin problem." 

To Richie this is a collaborative effort. 

Students will only be put into the pool to be randomly tested if they and their parents both opt into the policy and sign the permission form.

 Forms for parents and students to opt into the policy will be sent out within the next couple of weeks. 

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