By Starrla Cray
WRIGHT COUNTY, MN “How do I talk to my teenager about the dangers of alcohol?”
“What do I do if I find drug paraphernalia in my child’s bedroom?”
These are just a couple of the questions that can be answered through the Methamphetamine Education and Drug Awareness (MEADA) Coalition of Wright County.
“We are a resource that people can come to with questions,” said MEADA vice chair Margaret Munson. “If we don’t have the answers, we’ll find them.”
MEADA was first organized from another local initiative called Safe Schools. Munson, Karla Heeter, Gary Miller, Mike McMillan, and Tim Kelly were the founding members.
“The meth problem got out of control in the early 2000s,” Munson said.
Since MEADA’s start in 2004, many cities in Wright County have come together to educate people about methamphetamine (meth), alcohol, and other drugs.
The organization is an advocate for treatment services, and it works to prevent drug use, enforce and implement drug laws, and help recovering addicts.
“I think awareness has increased,” Munson said. “We get a lot of calls from parents seeking information.”
MEADA often sponsors information nights with a variety of speakers. During a recent event, 19 student-produced videos from schools throughout Wright County were presented.
“They were unbelievable,” said Pam Henry-Neaton, treasurer of the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted MEADA chapter.
The videos showed the risks of drug and alcohol use. A $500 first place cash prize was awarded to Neil Gleason and Drew Maas of Buffalo High School for their video. Sam Papas and Mary Mueller of St. Michael-Albertville (STMA) High School received $300 for second place, and Claudia Giple of STMA was given $100 for third place.
Another MEADA-sponsored event is the HLWW Middle School lip sync contest, which is set for Friday, April 30 at 7 p.m. in the middle school auditorium.
MEADA events provide young people with fun alternatives to drug and alcohol, Henry-Neaton said.
Past events, such as indoor rollerskating, movies in the park, and “chemical health week” activities, help promote smart, healthy choices.
“It’s proactive, not reactive,” Munson said.
Former drug addicts who have turned their lives around also help with MEADA, speaking to students about the negative consequences of drug abuse.
“We have a lot of recovering meth addicts who have come forward,” Munson said.
Many MEADA partners have volunteered to be speakers and travel throughout Wright County spreading the news about meth and other drugs of abuse.
Each MEADA speaker has received training from the narcotics division of the Wright County Sheriff’s Department and is knowledgeable on the facts about meth, according to the MEADA web site.
Additional resources can be provided, including MEADA and Wright County Sheriff’s Department informational brochures, along with many other free resources.
People who would like to request a speaker for their organization’s meeting can call (763) 682-7713 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Wright County MEADA meets the third Wednesday of every month at 4 p.m. at the Wright County Law Enforcement Center in Buffalo.
“Anyone is welcome to join us,” Munson said.
The HLWW MEADA meets every other month, on the third Wednesday, at 6:30 p.m. at Humphrey Elementary in Waverly.
To learn more about MEADA, go to www.meada.org. The site provides information about a variety of drugs, proactive tips, and other resources.
For more information about the HLWW MEADA, e-mail Henry-Neaton at email@example.com.
The MEADA organization has several active board members from many cities in Wright County, including:
• Teri Lachermeier, community representative at-large, Buffalo MEADA
• Margaret Munson, vice-chair, Wright County Court Services
• Pam Henry-Neaton, treasurer, Howard Lake Waverly Winsted MEADA
• Judy Johnson and Anne Bartus, Otsego-Rogers MEADA
• Lisa Maas, St. Michael-Albertville MEADA
• Rose Thelen, Wright County commissioner
• Tom Kelly, Wright County attorney
• Gary Miller, Wright County sheriff
• Chad Miller, Wright County Human Services
• Joel Torkelson, Wright County Public Health
• Eric Anderson, local law enforcement
• Glendy Ridley, Buffalo MEADA
• Tom Schuveiller, township government
• Allison Moser, at-large, director
• Duane Hackbarth, at-large director
• Celeste Dahlstrom, Maple Lake MEADA
There are seven active members of the HLWW MEADA, a local chapter of the Wright County MEADA, including:
• Pam Henry-Neaton
• Alycia Hausladen
• Jodi Utne
• Tricia Stender
• Patty Lehner
• Gina Jenkins
• Christine Kittock