We are not in Mayberry any longer
Sad to say, things are not always so wonderful, happy and rosy in our little version of Mayberry, folks.
And, the one to tell you why is Sheriff Mike Gormley. While Gormley bears a slight resemblance to Andy Taylor they both are very nice guys and smile a lot Gormley sees more bad stuff going on in Faribault County in a week than Sheriff Taylor dealt with in a season’s worth of television shows about the fictional small town of Mayberry.
Our sheriff shared some of those grim details with the Blue Earth Kiwanis Club last week and it was easy to see the shocked looks on some of the members’ faces.
The sheriff started off talking about drugs, something that is still so prevalent at all levels of our society and that includes here in our own bit of rural Minnesota.
Meth is making a big comeback, Gormley says. After a couple of years of having fewer cases, it has become a drug of choice once again.
This time, however, it is not being manufactured or ‘cooked’ locally, but instead is being brought in pre-made, usually coming from Mexico. Gormley credits Minnesota’s tough stance on the sale of Sudafed a key ingredient in making methamphetamine as the reason for shutting down production in local meth labs.
Marijuana use has never gone away, the sheriff says. It is very popular with youth, our kids in school, some trying it in eighth grade or even younger. But, Gormley says people of all ages are smoking it.
With Minnesota’s new law for medical use of marijuana, Gormley is still waiting for the exact rules to be determined and how it will be enforced.
He tells a funny story of one local marijuana user asking the sheriff’s office how to get a license to grow medical marijuana. Gormley had to tell him the State of Minnesota is going to issue the license, and they are only going to issue two of them.
Somehow I think that guy might now be on the suspicious activity watch list.
Prescription pills are the other drug of choice, especially among young people. They are easy to get from any medicine cabinet, and kids know or think they know which ones produce the best highs.
Gormley urges parents to talk to their kids about drugs, and listen to them and monitor their friends and activities.
The sheriff also urged people to dispose of old medicines and said there is a drop off box to dispose of old, out-dated prescriptions at both the law enforcement center in Blue Earth and at City Hall in Wells. Last year the sheriff’s office disposed of about 250 pounds of old pills.
Of course, drugs are not the only problem here in our version of Mayberry.
There are burglaries, car thefts, domestic assaults and even an occasional murder in our little rural county. Gormley reported the number of children that have to be removed from the home because of drugs or domestic violence from the adults in the house is on the rise in Faribault County.
Of course, some of these other crimes can have a direct link back to drugs, either from using them, or trying to get money to pay for them.
While all this information may have shocked some of the Kiwanians, it wasn’t as shocking for this old editor, or for any of the reporters who have been assigned to cover the Faribault County Court proceedings. After sitting through a Monday afternoon of watching cases handled by Judge Douglas Richards, one gets a whole new look at what is going on in our fair county.
And it ain’t very pretty.
Every so often we have to switch around which reporter it is that covers courts, because after a while, it gets to you. Especially our young reporters, who quickly learn there is a lot of bad stuff going on in the world, including right here in Mayberry I mean, Faribault County.
This is the reason I have always had a great deal of admiration for our local law enforcement officers and the people who deal with drug abuse, domestic violence or mental health problems.
They see a lot of bad stuff, virtually every day. They have to deal with some terrible activities, dangerous people and some very sad, depressing situations.
It must be hard to deal with at times, and I am glad we have people who are willing to tackle it.
We might not live in Mayberry anymore, but we still want to live in a nice little town. And it is up to all of us to do what we can to make it that way.