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Council members launch anti-drug campaign

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The full text of the prepared statements read at Monday night’s meeting of the Chesterton Town Council by members Mike Bannon, R-5th, and Sharon Darnell, D-4th.

Bannon’s:

“We are very lucky to live here in Chesterton, Ind. We have a community full of wonderful, active citizens, many of whom give tirelessly of themselves for the benefit of others.

“We are fortunate to have a good community to live in. We have heard people call for us to go from ‘good to great.’

“To me, going from ‘good to great’ involves our whole community, not just the actions that our governmental bodies can and do take.

“It involves every business, every club, ever organization, every church, and most importantly every family and individual who make their home here.

“Just like every community in our country, we have our successes and we have our challenges. In my mind, having a great community means celebrating and continuing those things that make our community a wonderful place to be, while also recognizing the challenges that we must work on.

“One challenge that we have, and one that I feel we need to address with all of our collective energy, is the problem we have with illegal drugs. It is here. It is a problem.

“I don’t want to sound like an alarmist, but we have recently been given some gifts by some courageous people who have stepped forward and shared with us what has happened to their children.

“They have seen their kids snared by an ugly menace. And they see their kids fight against this every day. We are losing young people and kids to a heinous, life-threatening sickness.

“This isn’t just a problem for government, police agencies, or our schools to solve. It is a problem for all of us to solve. Because it affects everyone who lives and works here.

“All of the studies that have been done show that much of the crime that we suffer through has its roots in illegal drug activity.

“Every house in this town, every person who lives or works or visits here can be affected by this. More importantly, though, we have young people who are just getting started in their lives, who have tremendous promise and abilities and talents to bring to our community, who instead get lured into a lifestyle fraught with illegal activity, and addictions, and sometimes serious illness and death.

“We all know people whose lives have been seriously imperiled by this problem. We as a community have the opportunity to step up and work on this problem.

“I believe in Chesterton and the people who call this town home. I believe in our collective ability to get things done. I believe we have the ability and the courage to use our talent, our energy, our collective will, and our compassion to fight this fight.

“This is the kind of effort and success that will make us great.

“This first part of solving any problem is the recognition that there is a problem. We as your elected officials recognize that there is a problem. I would like for everyone to recognize the problem. Now we need to work toward a solution—which is something I am going to ask everyone to do.

“One thing that I think you as citizens elect us to do is to take care of the public’s business. To make sure that we run our town government in the best way that it can be run. We do that and will continue to do that.

“But just as important, I think it is our responsibility to lead. And I think leadership entails not only working on things that are popular, but also working on those things that are not necessarily popular but that we see as a threat to our community.

“We here in Chesterton see the wonderful things that many of the young people in our community accomplish on a regular basis. Read the paper and see their successes in all facets of life. In athletics, in extracurricular activities, in academic endeavors. The young people in our community collectively accomplish some wonderful things.

“I am calling on our community to work hard to make sure that we don’t continue to lose some of our kids along the way.”

Darnell’s:

“I would like everyone in our community to try and see the ugly life-threatening disease among us that is drug abuse.

“I emphasize the word community in that no matter how successful our town is in economic development, we continue to come up short if the current level of drug abuse in our neighborhoods remains as it is now.

“Everyone you talk to has some connection to drug abuse and the victims it claims.

“We must all be held accountable for our actions or lack of actions when dealing with this in our community.

“I want every single drug dealer, every single drug runner, every enabling adult, every single weak-willed elected or appointed public official who does not do their job to its fullest extent to help us fight to know that the citizens of Chesterton will be watching. We are all responsible and our children are our future.

“The elections are over. There are no longer votes to be counted so this is not a ploy for popularity. It is the beginning of a lot of work that needs to be done in Chesterton, and it will take everyone to help. I will continue to update you.”

 

Posted 3/9/2004