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Published: Wednesday, 7/19/2006

Monroe County wins grants for meth education

MONROE - Illegal methamphetamine may not have hit Monroe County in a big way yet, but meth education is about to.

The Active Balanced Community, a group funded by a federal grant and housed at the Monroe County United Way, recently received about $11,000 in grants to put toward substance-abuse awareness, with some money earmarked specifically for meth education, said April Corie, development co-coordinator for ABC, and Nancy Bennett, manager of the law enforcement section in the Michigan Department of Community Health's Office of Drug Control Policy.

About $7,000 is coming from the Southeast Michigan Community Alliance and is for general substance abuse awareness, said Theresa Webster, the alliance's prevention services administrator. If that includes methamphetamine and how it could affect Monroe County, that's fine.

"They don't currently have a meth problem, but they're surrounded by counties that do," she said. "We decided to be proactive rather than reactive."

Nearby Hillsdale County is already struggling with meth issues, including labs and use. Its issues with the drug, which is sweeping across the nation from the west, started a couple of years ago.

The state health department has given the county another $4,400 in two grants under its Meth Watch program, Ms. Bennett said.

"The $1,500 is for a community forum that they're holding to provide the community with information and resources, and to foster inter-agency collaboration," she said. "The $2,916 is for the Monroe County Fair - they're going to have a booth."

Retailer awareness will be another aspect of the program, Ms. Corie said.

Monroe County is concerned now because reports of the drug are starting to surface.

"We looked at a map of Michigan, and you can see reports of meth labs and meth use definitely closing in on Monroe," Ms. Corie said. "I think we've had only one meth lab in Monroe to date. We're trying to head this off before it becomes an issue. We really don't want it to become an issue in Monroe."

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