County Commission passes meth law

By Tonya Garner: CNJ staff writer

The Curry County Commission unanimously passed a meth ordinance Wednesday which will restrict the display and sale of cold and sinus medicine used in the production of methamphetamine.

Ninth Judicial District Attorney Matt Chandler and a key member of the Region Five Drug Task Force told the commission meth is affecting every aspect of the community.

Chandler said the ordinance would still allow “good people” to acquire enough medicine needed for a cold while keeping large amounts out of “meth cookers” hands.

The new ordinance will require individuals to present a driver’s license to purchase powder and tablet forms of cold and sinus medication containing ephedrine, pseudoephedrine or phenylpropanolamine, which all can be used to manufacture meth. It would also limit the amount of a single purchase to three packages or 100 tablets.

According to Chandler, this would prevent “smurfing,” which is when an individual purchases the maximum amount of cold medicine from several locations in one day.

Roman Romero, member of the Region Five Drug Task Force, asked the commissioners to consider the “human factor” before voting.

“We want to be able to look into people’s eyes and tell them we are doing everything we can,” Romero said.

Ramero said everyone is affected in some way by meth whether it be their tax base or employees not passing drug tests.

Commissioner Tim Ashley, who owns a local concrete business, said he has personally seen a huge number of employees disqualified due to the inability to pass a urine test for the Department of Transportation.

“It is hard to legislate morality,” Ashley said. “But something needs to be done.”

Chandler and Ramero reported 12 meth labs have been discovered in the district in the last year. Each cost $16,000 to clean up due to the fact that one pound of meth creates six pounds of hazardous waste, Chandler said.

“This drug is directly and indirectly affecting our jails, hospitals and taxes,” Chandler said.

Chandler said he would work hard to procure grant money to educate the public about the illegal drug and to rehabilitate those addicted to meth.

Additional agenda items discussed at the meeting:
• Sheriff Roger Hatcher reported donations for Katrina’s Kids have been discontinued due to an abundance of items received. The donated semi-trucks left Wednesday afternoon to deliver the much needed items to the Baker, La., police department.

• Ashley e-mailed the National Association of Counties saying Curry County had job opportunities available for those displaced by the hurricane.

• Curry County Manager Dick Smith reported Curry County has the resources to house 250 Hurricane Katrina evacuees. The Curry County fairgrounds will be utilized for this effort.

• Curry County Road Superintendent Danny Davis reported the construction on County Road 4 is near completion.

• Detention Center Administrator Don Burdine reported the county has 319 inmates, including 34 in Dickens County, 10 in Parmer County and four in Bailey County.

• Smith made a recommendation that all county buildings be made non-smoking. A decision was made to limit smoking on the courthouse grounds to the handicap entrance and the west entrance only. No decision was made regarding other county buildings.

• Smith presented preliminary site plans for the future Curry County Special Events Center. The facility would be located on the west side of the fairgrounds. Smith reported the project will cost an estimated $8 million.