National Night Out gets drugs out of the house

PAT FRIDGEN
Franklin County sheriff's department Sgt. Ken Hall recorded the identity of prescription pills, or if unknown, the color and shape. Each pill was individually counted.

"I'm ecstatic," said Greencastle police officer T. J. Anderson of the community turnout for National Night Out, sponsored by the police department to bring the public and law enforcement together in a friendly manner. NNO was held Aug. 3 and featured a drug takeback, junior scavenger hunt, dunk an officer and displays by other agencies. Over 250 people attended the event.

The collection of expired medications resulted in a large haul. Lauri Ryder, Franklin County Drug and Alcohol Prevention Specialist, reported that 500 pounds of material were brought in. Of that, 385 pounds were medications, including 27 pounds of controlled substances and 358 pounds of non-controlled substances. "The narcotics are the ones I really want," she said.

Pesonnel from the sheriff's department and PSC, a hazardous materials handling company, were present for the 1 to 7 p.m. takeback in the parking lot of Greencastle Church of the Brethren on South Carlisle Street. Police officers manned each end of the drive-through corridor, or personally took the bags of pills when citizens were on foot. The public was restricted from the highly-protected site, marked with yellow barrier tape. Each person involved in processing the drugs wore blue latex gloves.

For part of the shift, pharmacist Laurie Vogel separated the medications by category. Sgt. Ken Hall and Deputy Bob Marshall counted every pill and wrote the description in a log. The pills were then dropped in bins according to type. The controlled substances were taken to the sheriff's office under lockup for the night, then transported to an incinerator in York. The non-controlled substances were treated based on EPA standards, said Valentino Valenti, a certified handler with PSC.

Kay Hoffman appreciated the effort coordinated by the police. She brought in about a dozen bottles of old pills. "I wanted to get them out of the house and didn't know what to do with them," she said.

Ryder considered the program successful and hoped to do it again in the future.

Fun for kids

Though the goal was 100 children, 130 actually registered for the Jr. Scavenger Hunt, designed to acquaint them with local businesses. They returned their passports with solved clues, anxious to win something for their efforts. Businesses donated over $1,100 worth of prizes.

Eric Kamoie sat under a water balloon, suspended by a sensitive device that would open when a thrown ball hit the bullseye. The $150 raised from the Pitch Burst game went to the Jerome King Playground Association.

The Franklin County Seeing Eye Puppy Club brought in puppies in training, eventually to be turned over to organizations dedicated to providing dogs to visually impaired people. Seven-month old Igor, a calm German Shepherd, let children pet him. Trainer Trisha Davis, 21, had him since he was two months old. Igor was her eighth dog. "He'll be really hard to let go," she said, "but that's why I get another one."

Greencastle police officer Eric Kamoie was willing to take one for the squad. He was drenched by water balloons frequently during National Night Out, if people could hit a target with a ball.