Courier Letters to the Editor 7-20-16

A growing problem

Dear Editor,

I want to thank all who voted in the June primary and run-off elections. Your participation and support was greatly appreciated.

I met many people during the county council campaign and gained some insight into the problems our county faces. Most are broader and deeper than most realize.

For example, all the county council candidates in all the races supported a new, renovated and/or bigger jail. Talking with patrolmen, a deputy, DSS, the solicitor, an employee at the jail and even a couple of former inmates, I came to realize the problem is beyond just building a new jail. The solicitor said 80 percent of those in the LEC are there for methamphetamine — making it, stealing to get money for it, getting high on it and then committing some other crime. Build a bigger jail, yes, but realize it will fill up in a short time.

There is also a legal aspect to the problem — not enough prosecutors, court time and public defenders — but that is not the scary part.

Meth is a devastating drug — poison. Look at some of its ingredients: acetone, which is paint thinner; lithium, used in batteries; toluene, used in brake fluid; anhydrous ammonia, used in countertop cleaners. Nor is meth like alcohol or marijuana, which take years to become a habit. A person becomes addicted to meth after using it once or twice. Also, the rehab success rate is extremely low — less than 15 percent — for meth addicts, so it is a tough clinical problem, too.

Add in most users are on government assistance, so they are sustained in their drug use and crimes — a maintained class, a class that is growing in the county. So it’s a social problem.

What’s the solution? Pseudoephedrine (PSE) is a key ingredient. Making PSE prescription-only like in Oregon and Mississippi could be one step. The drug companies will not like that, but our legislature must seriously consider this.

Since the rehab rate is so low, the cure is most likely to be generational — doing more to make sure our youth never try the stuff in the first place. Opportunity is the key there. If a kid graduates high school and lands a job here in Pickens, that’s the kind of habit we want him to fall into. Without such job opportunities, he could fall into a bad habit, and too many obviously are.

I’m all for building tourism, but that should not be the focus of our economic development. Tourism creates minimum-wage jobs. We need gainful employment — jobs generating a living wage and career paths. This is the economic piece of problem/solution.

I learned we are facing a very broad challenge here — law enforcement, legal, clinical, social and economic. It requires a coordinated effort across agencies that frankly I just don’t see right now. It needs to be undertaken, though, because the situation is quietly getting worse.

Alex Saitta




Expanding Options

Dear Editor,

As a parent of children attending Pickens County schools, I have been disheartened and discouraged by the actions of the School District of Pickens County in its recent school closing decisions. These decisions and the contentious environment surrounding them have not only impacted the parents directly, but also our family members, friends and neighbors. The concerns of everyone affected now center on providing the best possible educational opportunities for our students. An option to provide a superior education here in Pickens County has presented itself with the 2018 opening of Clearview Collegiate Academy, which will serve grades 6-12.

Clearview Collegiate Academy will provide a host of advantages to its students. Core courses will be coupled with unique project-based learning modules in the middle school years. For the high school students, CCA will offer the opportunity for a student to obtain two years of college credit during the 11th and 12th grade years. During these college-level courses, students will receive more face-to-face instruction time than is required by the dual credit provider. CCA also plans an elite sports program with a goal of 30 percent of participating athletes receiving at least one offer to play on a collegiate level.

What is exceptional about this learning environment is that it meets the students on their own level and formulates a plan to have them achieve a competitive academic and athletic level when entering college. If a student is not yet ready for college-level learning, CCA will prepare that student for the transition to college-level work by providing needed interventions and free tutoring.

The CCA charter school is currently seeking accreditation through the School District of Pickens County. This accreditation process includes an initial letter of intent, a formal application and finally a vote from the SDPC board members. This vote provides an opportunity for the SDPC board to rise above prior conflicts and political agendas and to prove to the residents of Pickens County that they can make decisions in the best interests of the students.

I ask that every resident and/or parent in Pickens County contact each of the school board members individually, requesting that they vote “yes” for accreditation of the Clearview Collegiate Academy.

Deana McAnulty