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Children Services staff gets drug abuse briefing to build job skills

April 9, 2008
CALCUTTA — Workers who investigate child abuse and neglect learned details about the Columbiana County drug trade Tuesday — a lesson they’ll need on the job, their supervisor said.

According to Children Services Intake Supervisor Carrie Mitchell, workers visiting residences have interrupted drug deals, come across drug paraphernalia and noticed unusual activity in the course of their investigations.

With drugs becoming a more prevalent issue in their cases, she decided to make drugs the focus of this year’s workshop for Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Titled “Drugs, A Dose of Trouble,” the workshop held at the St. Clair Township Community Building featured presentations by county Prosecutor Robert Herron, county Drug Task Force Director Dan Downard and Dr. Paul McPherson of the Child Advocacy Center. Representatives of the Family Recovery Center and the Columbiana Counseling Center were also on the schedule.

Besides Children Services workers, attendees included representatives of law enforcement, the prosecutor’s office, Family Recovery, the Counseling Center and county government.

Mitchell said she wanted her workers to learn “what’s out there, what to look for and how to be safe.”

As a grand juror, she heard a presentation by Herron about the drug problem in the county and found it a learning experience. She’s been with the Department of Job and Family Services the past 14 years and said she doesn’t remember drugs playing such a part in their cases as they have in the past few years.

Parents are using drugs, children are in homes where drugs are being sold, children are being abused by parents abusing drugs and parents and children are using drugs together, Mitchell said.

“This is a quality of life issue for all of us,” Children Services Administrator Judith Fannin said, pointing to decreasing home values, increases in burglaries and other crimes and impacts to neighborhoods and families.

Mitchell said they’ve had a huge increase in the number of babies being born testing positive for drugs, along with their mothers.

People with concerns should contact Children Services at 330-424-7781, extension 3118 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and at 330-424-7767 after hours, on weekends and holidays.

If they’re aware of drug activity, they should call the DTF at 330-424-0309.

Downard explained to workshop participants what the different types of drugs look like, how they affect the user and how much they cost on the street. He also warned them that where there are drugs, there are usually weapons for drug dealers to protect their product.

“They have no qualms about getting violent if they have to,” he said.

The list of drugs seized in the county by the DTF last year included: 44.63 grams of cocaine; 744.26 grams of crack cocaine; 96,215.6 grams of marijuana; 695 marijuana plants; 518 unit doses of heroin; and 276 unit doses of prescription drugs.

Mary Ann Greier can be reached at

Article Photos

Columbiana County Drug Task Force Director Dan Downard, a detective with the Lisbon Police Department, explains the signs of drug use to attendees of a workshop held Tuesday in the St. Clair Township Community Room for Child Abuse Prevention Month. The workshop titled 'Drugs, A Dose of Trouble' was sponsored by county Children Services through the Department of Job and Family Services. (Salem News photo by Mary Ann Greier)



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