County “Town Hall” Meeting At Hoy Recovery Center In Velarde
VELARDE – On Wednesday, May 13 the Rio Arriba County Commission held a town hall meeting at the Hoy substance abuse treatment facility in Velarde. Local residents from Velarde and surrounding communities attended the town hall, which was one of a series of town hall type meetings the Rio Arriba commission is holding throughout the county. The meetings are an effort to hear the concerns of the public in their home communities and to spotlight county resources of which many people may be unaware.
The Wednesday meeting at Hoy was designed to allow the public to see the county owned treatment facilities and learn more about substance abuse treatment resources. County planners also hoped to facilitate a discussion on how the stakeholders in the community can better collaborate in addressing the drug and alcohol abuse problems in the community.
County Commissioner Barney Trujillo (Dist. 1) said in his opening comments “We are wanting to have the event here (at Hoy) to talk about the drug problem in Rio Arriba County and to talk about ways we are addressing the problem.”
Law enforcement representatives from State Police, Sherriff James Lujan, Rio Arriba County Detention and the District Attorney’s office were also present to help facilitate a conversation about the impact drug and substance abuse has on crime in the county. County Commissioner Alex Naranjo (Dist. 2) said during the event that 80% of the burglary and crime in the county is caused by drugs.
County Commissioner Danny Garcia (Dist. 3) added to the discussion saying that incarceration is an important part of stopping perpetrators but added “Jail is not the answer for resolving drug problems. It’s us, working together with our families, friends and neighbors to find the solution. It (addiction) is a disease and rehabilitation is definitely part of the answer.”
Sergeant Leroy Geller with the New Mexico State Police also spoke on the issue asking for the public to stay engaged and report when they know of someone’s involvement in drugs or crime. Geller added “My Father-in-law was murdered on the 64/285 in a drug related crime. It is important we all report what we know is going on to help solve crimes and keep innocent people from getting hurt.”
Local law enforcement reported during the meeting that they are now meeting monthly to plan joint efforts to cut down on DWI incidents and drug related crime.
Deputy County Manager David Trujillo led the discussion highlighting community resources for handling substance abuse. He highlighted county efforts to create a “continuum of care” which links the various service providers together to try and create a network to provide services for substance abusers directly and also for their families. Trujillo said “Drug and alcohol abuse are often multigenerational issues with the juvenile being raised by grandparents. A teenager may start the service but our wrap around system is trying to bring in all family members who need support or care.”
Rio Arriba County operates bot h the Health & Human Services Department and the RAC STOP programs which provide direct services and access to other service providers in the community. In addition the Espanola Hospital, La Clinica and El Centro Family Health attended the meeting to discuss resources available. See below for a list of the services available through this continuum of service providers:
Anyone interested in learning more about the services available or to request help with a substance problem for themselves or a family member is encouraged to call either RAC STOP at 505-747-1418 or the Rio Arriba Health & Human Services Office at 505-753-3143.
Also speaking at the event were Ambros Barros, the Executive Director at Hoy, Brenda Romero, the Director of the Espanola hospital and Louise Sanchez, the Director of the RAC STOP program.
The meeting then opened up to the public to discuss issues they wanted to raise.
Several members of the public then took turns speaking to the attendees. Efren Sanchez from Lyden attended the meeting and asked for all local officials to participate in the annual youth walk against drugs that he helps organize (SEE EARLIER ARTICLE HERE) . A shorter walk is planned for August.
Marcus Martinez from Velarde spoke out about the needs of many of the addicts and the need to address the issue of the family environment more strongly. He later added that he works with many youth who are addicted and that “kids on drugs want someone to help them, but not go out and preach to them. We need to give them support. “
Pablo Lujan with the Espanola School Board spoke about efforts to collaborate between the county and school district.
Sharon Degurel, school board member from the Pojoaque Valley district and Hoy Board member also spoke.
For more information about any services available to the public call either call either RAC STOP at 505-747-1418 or the Rio Arriba Health & Human Services Office at 505-753-3143.