In Other News: War On Drugs Edition

This is the week that the nearly four-decades-old War On Drugs came to our community. Obviously, we’ve been touched by it before, with assorted arrests, the shutdown of small-time labs, and D.A.R.E. programs in schools. But this week saw the quiet of an early morning in one of the Oak Ridge area’s most well-to-do neighborhoods broken by the arrival of the DEA, DPS officers, our Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, and county Constables, among others. They arrested a number of individuals allegedly involved in a nationwide drug ring, seized vehicles and other items, and left with families broken and neighbors in disbelief.

Since President Richard Nixon created the DEA in 1973, the U.S. has spent nearly $2.5 trillion fighting the war on drugs. In that time frame we’ve seen Nancy Reagan‘s “Just Say No” campaign, the fried egg “This is Your Brain On Drugs” commercials, and a host of other initiatives aimed at reducing drug use in this country. The advertising, school programs, increased jail times, and a crackdown on smuggling have been largely ineffective, with the number of illicit drug users in America rising to nearly 20 million.

The activities of this week slam home the point that this is an issue that affects every one of us, no matter what neighborhood we live in. It’s not just in the apartments close to I-45. It’s not just in Tamina, or in Gleneagles. It’s also thriving in Oak Ridge North and Imperial Oaks and Legends and Fox Run and Spring Trails and, yes, in Bender’s Landing. If you think otherwise, then you need to get your head out of the sand and look around. It may have never occurred to you that this sort of thing could happen in your neighborhood. Drug kingpins are supposed to live lavishly on estates in Latin America, or in posh Miami hotels being pursued by the likes of Sonny Crockett and Ricardo Tubbs. They’re not supposed to be waiting for their kids in the elementary school car line. But this is the real world, and in the real world, that big-time drug dealer could be the quiet guy living next door.

So how do we deal with it?  There are no easy answers. Nothing we can do will make this insidious problem, and the violence and ruined lives associated with it, go away. The only thing within our control is our reaction to the situation, and how we deal with the folks that are directly affected by it. We really can’t go casting stones. We can only offer grace to the families and our prayers for all involved.

This was, however, also a week of better news throughout our community. Oak Ridge High School English teacher Joy Preble published her second novel, “Haunted“. It is all the more impressive when you consider that she spent the past year beating thyroid cancer. She’ll be embarking on a nationwide book tour this year in support of the book.

Dr. Joel Kerschenbaum, who 15 years ago founded the Community Clinic in Oak Ridge North, was honored last Sunday for his service to the community. The clinic, located on Pine Manor behine Pier 1, became a part of Interfaith late last year. Dr Kerschenbaum, ever humble, said, ““I certainly appreciate it, but I don’t want to take all the credit for this. (The clinic) provides the service that the community needs. I may have had the idea and championed it, but so many people have helped this clinic.”

Gerald Irons, who has served on the CISD Board of Trustees for 22 years

Long-time CISD School Board member Gerald Irons announced that he would retire from his position on the Board of Trustees, and not seek re-election in 2012. Maybe it’s time the Oak Ridge area has some representation on the school board. Surely there are a number of folks in our community that would be more than qualified to do this and represent the best interests of Oak Ridge area kids. We need to get together and make this happen.

The City of Oak Ridge North approved $170,000 to upgrade restroom facilities at the park, and Oak Ridge North police department videos were sent to the Turner reality series, “TruTV“. The folks behind TruTV, RBI Productions, apparently reciprocated by making a donation to the Montgomery County Women’s Center. A nod on this one goes to Lauren Hodges of The Woodlands Villager, who is really good at digging this information up.

The Montgomery County Precinct 3 Constable’s office has been very busy of late, arresting a number of folks for outstanding warrants, invalid drivers licenses, DWI, possession of marijuana, public intoxication, and failure to pay child support. They got a two-fer on Rayford: possession of stolen property (three cases of beer from Kroger) and driving with an invalid license. It probably pales to busting an international drug ring, but we sincerely appreciate their efforts in keeping our streets safe.

The Villager did a nice write-up on Wahoo’s Fish Taco, located in Portofino Center the other side of BJ’s. They say, “Bottom line, Wahoo Fish Taco is a trendy little fast food joint with a menu that appeals to modern tastes, healthy lifestyles and West Coast sensibilities. If you like to eat light and healthy, it’s probably worth a shot. If your idea of a taco or burrito involves massive amounts of seasoned ground beef with juice running down your arms and enough cheese to clog your throat and your arteries, you might want to look elsewhere.” Hmmm. This type of review might be aimed more at The Woodlands crowd that gravitates to “trendy little” restaurants, but Wahoo’s is OK nonetheless.

In other important food news, the Oak Ridge High School baseball team did their best, but was soundly defeated by a team from The Woodlands High School in the fifth annal Wings and More eating contest. Let’s hope our boys are saving it for the bigger games. The good news is that they left College Park in the dust. I am sure their mothers are very proud today.

In roundball, Ultimate Woodlands has a good story on the War Eagles boys basketball team’s 79-53 win over Lufkin that clinched a playoff berth for them.

Remember that CISD will hold classes on President’s Day, tomorrow, to make up for the school day lost to the big, well, ice storm. Also, to accommodate a new daily tutorial session, Oak Ridge High School first bell will ring at 7:16 am beginning February 28th.

Oak Ridge High School senior Joshua Hicks performed yesterday at Carnegie Hall (really!) as part of the American High School Honors Performance Series. Also, ORHS students Kelly Buchholz and Rossana Romero will attend the State Visual Art Scholastic Event (VASE) on April 9th.

And that wraps up this week’s news that wasn’t covered previously in Oak Ridge Now. Stay safe, everyone.

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Chuck Briese, Oak Ridge Now

[avatar user="cbriese" size="thumbnail" align="left"] Chuck Briese has been a resident of South Montgomery County since 1988. He and his lovely and patient wife, Leslie, have six sons, with only one left to finish high school. Chuck has been a Cub Scout leader, a Little League baseball coach, a church youth leader, and a general troublemaker over the course of the past 25 years. He is obsessed with his lawn, and likes restaurants that serve food that fills up the plate. He has a tendency to tilt at windmills, which may explain why he started Oak Ridge Now.

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