"We're losing a generation."
That was the blunt assessment of Lycoming County President Judge Nancy L. Butts last week. She was reacting to what she sees in her drug court. She was reacting to the establishment of a methadone clinic on Lycoming Creek Road to provide the lesser potent synthetic alternative to wean addicts off heroin. She was reacting to what seems like a new, more-destructive-than-ever wave of heroin usage gripping our area.
And it's scary how accurate the judge's observation was.
A city police officer told the Sun-Gazette this is "the land of opportunity" for drug dealers.
We credit the judge with trying to take a proactive role in solving the problem, saying she is willing to start up a drug task force involving local drug treatment counselors, parents and other who can contribute to finding solutions.
If we may offer some advice, that task force should include a couple landlords like the two who reacted last week to the City of Williamsport's proposed landlord-tenant ordinance. The point of the ordinance is to more closely monitor who is living in rental properties in the city. We don't agree with all of the ordinance, but we do agree with the principle behind it.
The two landlords, Ted Lyon and John Albarano II, see the ordinance as painting all landlords with a broad, unfair brush. They say they are tired of landlords being looked at as the heart of the problem.
We understand their perspective and frustrations. Anybody who handles themselves correctly is frustrated when they get lumped with the abusers in their profession.
It seems to us that people such as these two landlords would be ideal contributors on the task force Judge Butts is considering.
Corraling the current wave of illegal drugs and violence going on in our community is going to take a broad-based, nonpolitical effort that includes everyone capable of getting at the problem.
That means everyone crimefighting personnel, educators, residents, landlords, clergy, social service personnel, court system leaders has to contribute. We can do this. But it won't be easy.
Let's take the judge's lead and start fighting.