Chippewa County (WQOW) — Leaders say the meth problem has reached crisis level in Chippewa County. Now, they hope a new campaign can change that.
The Take a Stand Against Meth task force was formed to engage the community to address the explosion of meth cases.
Task force officials said since 2014, felony referrals tied to meth are up 256% while child protective services are up nearly 200% in that same span.
The Take a Stand Against Meth task force held seven town hall meetings over the past two years educating people on the dangers of the drug.
“Everybody is trying to do their own thing to help with the epidemic, but it is all in a silo approach,” said Rose Bauer, Chippewa County’s Criminal Justice Coordinator.
Plus, with the help of WQOW News 18, the task force is producing a documentary – telling the stories of those forever changed by this dangerous drug.
“More people want to hear from those affected,” Baier said. “People want to hear from the person that’s been through it and the people that are experiencing it.”
The documentary includes a plethora of interviews – including people still battling with meth addiction each day.
“I was going to burn holes right through the roof of my mouth,” said Tomm a former meth user. “Even after being told that, stopping was not my first thought. It was how am I going to do this drug differently?”
News 18 also spoke with investigators and a judge on how the drug has overwhelmed Chippewa County courts.
“Obviously the criminal justice system doesn’t have the answer, otherwise we would have fixed it by now. It takes a community,” said Chippewa County Judge Steven Gibbs.
The documentary also explores the ripple effect on schools, families and the foster care system.
“I dream of the day when we can say we don’t have enough kids for all these foster parents,” said Marcie, a Chippewa County foster parent. “That would be remarkable. That’d be the best day ever.”
Task force members hope the documentary opens eyes and sparks ideas to end the wave of addiction, crime and pain that has swept over Chippewa County.
“What we are looking for is everybody in the community to get on board and try to tackle this problem,” Judge Gibbs said. “Otherwise it is going to tackle us.”
The documentary will be shown at three community kick-off events happening next month. They will be held on October 14 in Bloomer, October 22 in Chippewa Falls and November 4 in Stanley.
The task force has 100 volunteers but could always use more as the endeavor continues.
More information on how to help and about the kick-off events is on the Take a Stand Against Meth website.