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Drugs have become a societal problem, said the Rev. J.C. Ortiz of St. John Vianney Catholic Church, and Sedona isn’t an exception.

By Trista Steers
Larson Newspapers

Drugs have become a societal problem, said the Rev. J.C. Ortiz of St. John Vianney Catholic Church, and Sedona isn’t an exception.

Methamphetamine is a problem in all of Arizona, including the Verde Valley.

“We look at it as a regional issue,” Sedona Police Chief Joe Vernier said, “Not just a local problem.”

While meth may or may not be manufactured in the city and the prevalence is not quite as high as in other communities, Ortiz said it is being used here.

“I’m sure the reason for that is demographics,” Vernier said.

The Parishioners for Social Justice Ministry of St. John Vianney is trying to combat the problem in Sedona before it does get bigger by hosting a community forum on methamphetamines Wednesday, Nov. 15, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the church.

“We want to be proactive instead of reactive,” Ortiz said.

The forum, “It Takes a Community to Save Our Kids From Meth,” is aimed at teaching the public what meth is, the signs of use, its effects and how different agencies deal with it.

“There is a problem,” Vernier said. “We can’t close our eyes to it.”

Vernier, a featured forum speaker, will talk about the behavior associated with meth use.

This behavior, Vernier said, is often a problem and can pose a danger to officers, the community and the user.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Northern Arizona Teen Coordinator Dave Martinez will also talk about what the center is doing to educate youth.

The club’s Meth Smart Program brings information into classrooms at West Sedona School and Big Park Community School on a weekly basis.

According to Martinez, they use this time to talk to students about the dangers of methamphetamine use, production, distribution and exposure.

Vernier and Martinez are two of several speakers who will address the issue from different points of view.

Kathy Tootle, a recovering meth addict who now works at the West Yavapai Guidance Clinic, will talk about the destruction meth caused in her life and her road to recovery.

Arizona Rep. Tom O’Halleran [R-District 1], Cottonwood Police Chief and MATForce Co-Chair Doug Bartosh, Yavapai County Substance Abuse Coalition Project Evaluator Harvey Grady and a representative from the Catholics Charities Advisory Counsel will also address the public.

Incorporation of the various groups gives a broad perspective of the issue and ways to combat it, according to Ortiz, while bringing the community together.

“We want to be a united effort,” Ortiz said.

According to Ortiz, the Parishioners for Social Justice Ministry works to be involved in the community by helping address issues facing residents — and meth is one.

Forum admission is free and resource information on detection and finding help for a problem will be available.


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