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Low Drug Talk Turnout Dismays Mayor, Parents

Petillo: 'If you don't come to these programs you don't realize the danger that your children are in.'

Drinking alcohol before age 15 makes you seven times more likely to become an alcoholic by age 21, Center for Prevention and Counseling Assistant Director Becky Carlson said.

"Pretty staggering information," Hopatcong parent Terry Bond said.

Unfortunately for Carlson, few other people were around to hear the statistic as only a handful of parents, Board of Education members, Hopatcong Municipal Alliance members and Mayor Sylvia Petillo attended Monday night's drug trend meeting at the auditorium.

Carlson said the dismal turnout made her feel "disappointment because you want to reach more people."

But she said there was a silver lining.

"You don't know who you've reached or who you've helped," Carlson said.

Carlson and Tina Thompson, also of the center, each said the presentation was in response to Hopatcong High School reporting eight separate drug-related incidents on its campus during the 2011-2012 school year, highlighted by a student's January overdose on cough syrup.

Petillo asked several questions during the presentation. She said she wished more residents showed up Monday.

"I learn so much when I come here and I've been doing this for years," she said. "There's always something that I didn't know. And then there's [the issue of] awareness. People need to know. And you can't be aware of the new [drug] trends unless you know what the new trends are."

"Every time I see something" regarding drugs "that I didn't know, I just sit amazed," Petillo continued. "And I think that's the issue. If you don't come to these programs you don't realize the danger that your children are in. There's just too much out there that people are not aware of."

Bond, who attended the meeting with her husband, Rob, agreed.

"It's just pathetic that people don't come," said Bond, who also said she didn't know if the meeting was well advertised. "I don't understand why people don't come."

Rob Bond said it often takes tragedies to motivate some people.

"That's when you get the big crowd," he said. "When a kid gets killed or seriously injured from something. Then parents get all irate and show up."

Despite the low attendance, Carlson and Thompson finished the entire presentation. The pair also spoke to Hopatcong high school and teachers earlier in the afternoon.

"We feel passionate about it," Carlson said. "And that's what you've got to do. You've got to keep trying."

TakingAStand February 14, 2012 at 10:18 AM
So very sad, still so many in denial! “Not my kid” but it could be... Not sure if notices were sent out or sent home from school but it was advertised on Patch and on FaceBook . Even if a notice sent home from school was provided chances are it would not get there. One of the biggest turnouts for a Project Alert meeting was after two Hopatcong youths overdosed and it appeared in the paper. This town loves gossip and drama.... want to get them there? Get speakers from our town, let them tell there stories of how drug addiction has affected their lives. Post notices in Quick Chek, PathMark, Dunkin Donuts and every other store or business that will allow you to. Let it read simply.... “FIND OUT WHO DOES DRUGS IN OUR TOWN” I'm betting on a huge turnout. One other suggestion... make sure it doesn't conflict with any other meeting, school function or program scheduled for that night. Still Taking A Stand
One who cares February 14, 2012 at 01:15 PM
The advertising was pitiful. The superintendent will use the emergency alert notification system to remind people to get out and vote and other things that don't have anything to do with a child's safety. Why was this system not used several times to let all the parents know about this vital presentation ? Poor communication as usual.
Resident February 14, 2012 at 02:39 PM
I really didn't find out about this till the day before. Would have went if I had know about it earlier
JenniferB February 14, 2012 at 02:58 PM
It looks like it was posted on hopatcong.org I try to make it a point to visit the website at least once a week. I think I'll start making a note in my calendar to check it more often.
One who cares February 14, 2012 at 04:15 PM
This is why the emergency notification system needs to be used in a instance like this. Not everyone has access to a computer and if they do what are the chances they are checking Hopatcong.org or the Patch every day. The school system has every parents contact information whether it be e-mail, home phone or cell phone. For the administration to organize the program with the Center for Prevention and Counseling and not use all avenues to contact every parent is just a joke and a waste of time for the people from the Center for Prevention and Counseling . I personally reached out to several parents this morning and only one of them knew about the program and they found out yesterday afternoon.
Brendan Kuty February 14, 2012 at 04:22 PM
We ran a preview story on Friday. The New Jersey Herald ran one on Sunday.
One who cares February 14, 2012 at 04:48 PM
Brendan, We appreciate the news that you provide all that check out the Patch. (I do when I can) And while I read several papers on Sunday the Herald is not one of them. It is still my contention that the school system did not do everything they could to get out the crucial word about this presentation. As I said in a earlier post they have no problem using the emergency notification system to tell us to get out and vote for the budget or a Tricky Tray but not a peep a program that can help us combat the drug crises in our town.
Michael Flippin February 14, 2012 at 05:58 PM
The town can do all of the advertising it wants. What it comes down to is apathy and priorities. People don't come out because they don't think it is an important enough issue for them or they just worked all day, drove home in traffic, fed their family, made sure their homework was done. Relax for a little bit or head out to a town meeting to here how bad of a drug problem there is in the world and our schools. Sorry but that is the reality. Want people to show up to a meeting tell them the school budget is going up 10% and taxes are going up 15%. I bet there is a big turn out.
Willa Scantlebury February 14, 2012 at 06:06 PM
Lame word out = lame turn out! I would have attended with both my children & husband! There are many obvious ways that gig should have been advertised. What a shame! The school system really should have stepped it up a notch for this type of thing! Big bummer man!
Rich Smith February 14, 2012 at 10:57 PM
At the time I am writing this, “Low Drug Talk Turnout Dismays Mayor “has had 9 comments. “Should Gay Marriage be Legal in NJ?” has received 87 comments. Where are our priorities? Patch always has articles about the good kids in our town. The Cheer leaders, the Scouts, the high school teams. Let’s take care of our kids. They are the important things in our community. Get those drugs out of our town. Don’t worry about who gets married to who. ( Or is it "whom"?)
john right February 14, 2012 at 10:58 PM
The 18 year old drinker was liberated Sunday 1/1/73. The republicans have raped 18 year old rights for the last 35 years. They are not "young adults" they are "oppressed quasi adults." These "drinking age refugees" must be given freedom and the universal right to drink at eighteen must be enstalled. As for the "war on drugs" it is pretty much over. The 80's were just a fantasy for the extreme rich. i.e. no one cares anymore.
TakingAStand February 15, 2012 at 12:28 PM
Unless all can agree that drugs are a problem in our town and that these meetings are very important, attendance will continue to be low. Of course if another overdose touches this town maybe the concerned citizens will attend these meetings. Maybe if the deaths caused by an overdose were made public more would open their eyes. BUT... if the school and the BOE don't think it's important enough to list these events on their calendars then we have a bigger problem at hand (see below). Calendars appear on the town website and the all school links and I am sure hard copies are distributed. The word was out about this meeting but as you can see from the calendar links below it conflicted with other events. For the next meeting... pick a day without another meeting scheduled. I am asking that these events be listed on the calendars distributed by the schools and the BOE. I know many read Patch and I am directing this request to Superintendent Dr. Charles Maranzano. http://www.hopatcong.org/calendar/CalFrontFeb2012.pdf http://www.hopatcong.org/calendar/CalBackFeb2012.pdf http://www.hopatcongschools.org/hs/calendar Still Taking A Stand
TakingAStand February 15, 2012 at 01:59 PM
PS.... The Hopatcong Municipal Alliance meetings should also appear on all calendars. And if you have a Facebook page get over and like their page so you can see when more upcoming events are posted.
Valerie Quinn February 15, 2012 at 04:03 PM
Thank you to everyone who is intrested in the Hopatcong Municipal Alliance. Please feel free to either check out our Facebook page or e-mail us and we will put you on our e-mail distribution list. hopatcongmuniciaplalliance@yahoo.com Our next meeting is February 22, 3:30 in the Municipal Building. I try very hard to list our events on .patch too. Thank you again!!

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