Chippewa County (WQOW) - The Chippewa County Board has approved new help in the county's fight against drug addiction.
On Tuesday, the board approved a full-time case manager to handle a surge in their drug court caseload. As News 18 reported in late July, Chippewa County has seen more than 250 felony cases related to methamphetamine in 2017. The problem as affected the county's youngest citizens as well, with 140 children already removed from their homes this year.
The county hopes a case manager will be able to focus their full attention on the growing problem.
Chippewa County (WQOW) - It's a problem that is becoming all too familiar in our area, and leaders in Chippewa County are trying to figure out how to curb the epidemic. The number of felony arrests in Chippewa County has skyrocketed in 2017, and officials told News 18 most of them are drug related.
Four hundred people have been charged with felonies in Chippewa County already this year. That number wasn't reached until at least September every year for the past decade. So what's changed?
"Methamphetamine seems to be the number one drug case that we have and it seems to be that everything else, at least 60-70 percent of the cases seem to be related to that as well," said District Attorney Wade Newell.
In fact, the problem has gotten so bad, it is part of the reason behind changes proposed within the county. Administrators are seeking to add a full-time case manager to focus on the drug court case load, a problem the county is prepared to handle for the long haul.
"It would be nice if we didn't have to have this type of epidemic," said County Administrator Frank Pascarella. "We'll never get rid of drugs, but when you have the epidemic that we have, be it meth, be it heroin, be it prescription drugs."
The problem is becoming a sad reality for children as well, as 140 kids have been taken out of their homes in the county this year already.
"In my understanding from speaking to Human Services is that 80 percent of those are meth related as well," Newell said. "So, they will go into a house and what they do then is a lot of times hair follicle testing of the children and then the children are testing positive for second hand exposure as if they were just using the drug themselves."
Only 130 children were taken into protective services all of last year in Chippewa County, so we have already eclipsed that number just past half way through the year.
Newell said the county now even has a second prosecutor handling drug cases for the first time. The problem is just too large for one person he said.