Loading
Search
NEWS STORIES

Opioid deaths lead Forest Co. Potawatomi to launch major ad, law enforcement campaignSubmitted: 12/05/2018
Ben Meyer
Ben Meyer
Managing Editor / Senior Reporter
bmeyer@wjfw.com

Opioid deaths lead Forest Co. Potawatomi to launch major ad, law enforcement campaign
CRANDON - It became one funeral too many for Ned Daniels Jr.

"We had some funeral services," he said. "All of a sudden, it started to get repeated way too much."

Daniels had seen enough of his fellow Forest County Potawatomi tribal members die, killed by opioid abuse.

As soon as he was elected Tribal Chairman in February, the tribe went all-out in its fight against opioids.

On Wednesday, that fight reached a new level.


The tribe is rolling out an aggressive television ad and billboard campaign while giving almost $700,000 to local law enforcement to fight the drug problem.

"None of us are powerful alone. But together, we're unbeatable. We believe this is something we can overcome if we all come together," Daniels said.

The statistics back up Daniels' concern.

In the first part of this decade, hospitalizations for opioid abuse nearly doubled in the average Wisconsin county. But in Forest County, they increased by 415 percent. Nine people have died this year in the county from opioids.

Daniels saw it happening around him, saw his 35-year-old daughter affected by opioids, and ran for tribal leadership on an aggressive anti-opioid campaign.

"I've changed my entire life. I'm usually a businessman. I sold all of my businesses so I could do this job," he said.

Potawatomi Health Division Administrator Julie Beeney says, in her 34 years in healthcare, she's never seen drugs kill people like opioids are doing right now.

Five tribal members died from opioid abuse in January alone.

Beeney is pleased with the response of the tribe's leaders.

"They want to be the face of, 'We're the generation, we're the Executive Council, we are the community that stood up and said, 'Not one more. We're not going to continue to let our community members die,''" she said.

Along with the television ads, which will appear on Newswatch 12, and the billboards, which will line Highway 8, the tribe is giving local police hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The Forest County Sheriff's Department will get $450,000 to hire two additional drug enforcement officers, doubling its drug force. The Crandon Police Department will get $225,000 to hire another police officer.

Forest County Sheriff John Dennee said the new money and donations already given by the tribe are essential.

"Without that help, we wouldn't probably be able to have the drug units and do things. We would probably be traditional law enforcement, patrolling and making arrests as they come along," Dennee said. "[With the money,] I can have guys that focus solely on opioids, drugs, awareness, education, prevention, enforcement, the whole gamut."

Dennee said opioids have risen to the top priority of the department.

"It's our number one issue. We see it in everything. We see it in every life, we see it in all of our crime, we see it in the background of a lot of things going on," he said. "We're seeing it everywhere."

Dennee said the opioid fight has helped his department and the tribe collaborate better than ever. He called their relationship "100 percent excellent."

Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
| Print Story | Email Story
Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com





 IN OTHER NEWS

Play Video

WAUSAU - Last year, police officers in Wausau documented hundreds of cases of marijuana possession in the city.

That resulted in more than 250 cases of arrest or criminal referrals.

But if a plan by Gov. Tony Evers is put into place, that number will likely drop in Wausau and around the state. Evers wants to remove penalties for possessing or selling 25 grams or less of marijuana.

Wausau Police Capt. Todd Baeten said the 250 marijuana-possession cases are pretty consistent for his department each year, although he couldn't say how many of them fall under the proposed 25-gram limit.

+ Read More

RHINELANDER - The Rhinelander Area Food Pantry canceled its distribution for Wednesday, Feb. 20.

Executive Director Guy Hansen told Newswatch 12 the snowfall concerns the staff about safety for patrons and others.  The normal distribution on Wednesdays is from 4-7 p.m.

Hansen says the next round of distribution will be Saturday, Feb. 23 from 10:30 a.m. - 1 p.m.

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - Northwoods food pantries will soon see an increase in donations.

Wednesday, Trig's Grocery began their annual Stuff-A-Truck food drive. 

This is the ninth year for the event. 

Seven Northwoods communities will benefit from the grocery chain's donation efforts. 

Boxes for food, pre-packaged bags, and personal care items are set up at each store location. 

"We do this to give back to the community," said Trig's Rhinelander Assistant Store Director, Tim Gould.

+ Read More

GREEN BAY - Can you name every Packers player by number?  How about list off their entire 2019 schedule?  The latest addition to the Packers Fan Hall of Fame can.

Amy Nelson of Fence, Wis. was named the 21st member during a ceremony at Lambeau Field on Wednesday. Fence is in Florence County.

+ Read More

MADISON - Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has vetoed an income tax cut bill in an early showdown with legislative Republicans who had moved to weaken the Democrat's powers just weeks before he took office.

Evers' veto Wednesday came on a bill that his party had called a stunt by Republicans. The GOP doesn't have enough votes to override the veto.

Evers is proposing his own income tax cut and plans to include it in the state budget he will unveil next week.

+ Read More

Play Video

WAUSAU - Drivers in Wausau will need to deal with closures on major east-west roads and a bridge over the Wisconsin River this summer.

On Wednesday, the city announced its plans for this year's construction projects.

Wausau will completely reconstruct more than a mile of Townline Road.

Work will also close parts of South First Avenue and Thomas Street, including the Wisconsin River bridge.

"It's going to be an inconvenience. There's no getting around that," said Mayor Robert Mielke. "But I always like to say, when this stuff is done, it's going to be great, so you got to look at it in that positive sense."

+ Read More

MADISON - Gov. Tony Evers says he won't be proposing building a new prison in Green Bay.

Evers told reporters Wednesday that while building a new prison is "something we have to weigh," he won't be including funding to do that in the budget he releases next week.

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: