Grundy County Sheriff Clint Shrum hosted an addiction roundtable to discuss the problems facing Grundy County and offer solutions on Wednesday, November 19. “How Bad Is It” was theme of the evening as speakers from a wide range of agencies detailed the addiction problems facing Grundy County.
“The problem is real,” said Shrum. “The programs presented tonight are good, needful programs and we need them. But, the ultimate answer is Jesus.” He stated that many county residents are suffering from the “ostrich syndrome” – if we don’t see it, it is not there. “Well, it’s here and if we don’t do something about it right now, it will sweep our county.”
It is estimated that 870 people over the age of 18 in Grundy County had a dependence on or abused illicit drugs or alcohol in the past year. In 2012, ten percent of Grundy County’s youth (under 18) were referred to juvenile court. This works out to approximately 310 children.
Project Lifeline’s Dave Hodges recognized the problems facing Grundy County and said that, “we can send someone to treatment but if they come home to an unrecovered community we have wasted our time.”
The Grundy Safe Communities Coalition is urging parents who suspect their children of using illegal substances to drug test the child. Director Chasity Melton says the coalition is providing drug testing kits to parents.
Announcing the last speaker for the evening, Sheriff Shrum said there was a solution, and it would be in place in Grundy County on December 1. Christine Hopkins, of Middle Tennessee Rural Reentry, detailed the plan to bring the program, which has had success in Franklin County, to Grundy County.
“It is not good enough to lock them up and through away the key,” said Hopkins. “Let’s use our time wisely.”
Middle Tennessee Rural Reentry will bring training and counseling to prisoners in the Grundy County Jail. Partnering with Tennessee College of Applied Technology in McMinnville, the program will hold computer skills training classes at the jail. In addition to the classes, prisoners will receive counseling, job readiness training, and vocational evaluations.
“The job placement rate is good,” explained Hopkins. “If they want to work, we can find them a spot.”
Grundy County Mayor Michael Brady feels the meeting was successful. “Good folks can get caught up in a bad way, and it saddens me to see families, citizens, and neighbors truly reaching for help – recovery. I now feel very encouraged that not only real and evident problems were identified, but that those with problems are being given solutions. I feel we are moving forward and reclaiming our community. I want to thank the Sheriff’s Department, organizations, and every person for their commitment to recovery.”
“It defiantly takes prayer,” says Elaine Meeks, after listening to the speakers. “The sheriff is not willing to throw them in jail and throw away the key. Grundy County deserves better, and with the support of the churches and the community, we will do this. I am so excited about the new re-entry program and I am thankful for the sheriff and other law enforcement that realizes our people need help because they are human beings with a soul. I will volunteer as much as I can.”
How can you help? Sheriff Shrum encouraged everyone to pray for the success of all of the programs presented at the roundtable. He says a building will be needed to house the Middle Tennessee Rural Reentry program, but the lack of space will not stop the program from beginning on December 1.
“Just how bad is it?” said Shrum. “Not so bad that we can’t change it.”