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More Officials Say Hopatcong Has Drug Problem

Mayor, councilman hope new health committee could address drug and senior citizen concerns in the borough.

More Hopatcong officials agree: the borough has a drug problem.

Mayor Sylvia Petillo and Councilman Mike Francis each, in separate interviews Sunday, said tackling illegal drugs in Hopatcong should be among the lead concerns of a new health advisory committee the borough council is expected to announce at a special meeting at 4 p.m. Monday at the .

"We still have health issues that I think are important to address," Francis said, "not the least of which are helping our senior citizens and addressing the drug problem in the town."

Said Petillo, "I want [the health advisory committee] to start working on this like the drug problem in the town."

Petillo and Francis' comments come on the heels of newly-appointed police chief Robert Brennan's statement that cracking down on drugs in Hopatcong would be his top priority.

"We have a drug problem that we need to address, that we're taking care of," Brennan said Wednesday.

Hopatcong has seen at least 11 drug arrests in March, according to police reports.

If implemented, the committee would eventually take over for the current board of health, which has seen less activity since Hopatcong became the last Sussex County municipality to merge its health department with the county in 2009.

"[The new committee] should be very productive, very active," said Petillo, who also said Councilmen John Young and Michael Francis will serve on the committee.

The committee would also implement a year-long wellness campaign in the borough, the mayor said.

"There are many opportunities for a proactive board to contribute toward the health of the community," Francis said. "We have a lot of issues (and) a lot of people who are financially stressed. They need help. There are things that we can do."

Petillo said merging the borough's health department with Sussex County was a cost-cutting move. She said Hopatcong was able to host last fall's flu clinic at a reduced rate due to its association with the county.

Petillo said creating a health advisory committee had been in the works since the merger.

She said current Board of Health members would be able to finish their terms and that she hoped to start accepting applications from residents to join the committee soon. Applicants with backgrounds in the medical field would gain preference, Petillo said.

Board of health President Thomas Forbes couldn't be reached Sunday.

Those interested in applying for a post can email Borough Administrator Robert Elia at relia@hopatcong.org.

Sandan March 28, 2012 at 03:59 PM
Education is always a positive, but every living sole knows that drugs are bad for you from the time they get into grammar school. The hard answer to a drug problem is what is called quality of life enforcement. This involves enforcement of minor infractions on the books, for Police interaction. The downside is that a small percentage of summons will be issued to juveniles and young adults who will complain that they are getting picked on. These interactions also lead to arrests for substantial violations of law, in which the person can be used for an informant to arrest drug dealers. Their is an epidemic of burglary's caused by those who need money for their next fix. Difficult problems can only be solved with tough choices.
Jennifer March 29, 2012 at 04:00 PM
I read the title of this article, "More Officials Say Hopatcong Has Drug Problem" the 1st thing that came to mind was, "No REALLY!?" DOESNT TAKE A SCHOLAR TO REALIZE THAT.
The Watcher March 29, 2012 at 05:08 PM
Can't see where the mayor and council have done a lot about the drug problem. Why would they need to be put on the Board of Health? What could they do there that they can't do as council members? Take out community input altogether and run the entire town?
Bill April 06, 2012 at 03:57 PM
Wait let me make sure I have this right, "More Officials Say Hopatcong Has Drug Problem" I am with Jennifer, Uh Duh, this town has always had issues with either drugs or drunks it was a party town for decades, now well not so much party but drugs, pfft... and more of you officials are just now noticing it? What town have you been living in? Did you not see the hand offs by quick chek both the old one and now the newer one. Do you not see the cars parked by Modick Park at night? Young people around the park at night in the freezing cold? Does this not make you sit up and say hmmmmm... Do you not see cars parked on side streets late at night? and believe me they are not doing the nasty in the car like back when I was a kid.... Do you not see the cars late at night cruising around near 3 n 1 or the post office? If not, you need to get out more often. Perhaps the police need some assistance, maybe more bodies out on the streets at night? I for one would be glad to hit the streets on weekend nights, I drove a cab up here part time every weekend night for nearly 10 years so being up and out until the early morning hours is no stranger to me.... maybe we all need to kick in and take back this town we live in instead of expecting the "officials" to do it. Call it "Vigilante" if you want but its worked in plenty of cities and towns throughout the US already so why not here too? They just noticed... that scares me on so many levels....
Just4myboys May 23, 2012 at 08:46 AM
I'm with Jennifer and Billl...Have they have blinders on and realize there was a problem with drugs? I think we need more residents to volunteer to help out in this town...Maybe implement a Neighborhood Watch...I know back in the day when I was a kid we had one...It did help some...We all know what's going on in this town..I would be interested in helping out...Is this something we can suggest to the board? If this is done on a volunteer basis it won't cost this town any money...We need to help and save our kids!

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