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RANGELY I It may be a new group, but organizers of the Trinity Project are dealing with an old problem: drugs.
“We’re looking at a grassroots effort to take back our community,” said Town Manager Peter Brixius. “We’re not trying to paint the picture that it’s pervasive, but it is out there, and we can’t allow it to grow.”
The Trinity Project takes a three-fold approach to combat the drug problem: law enforcement, education and recovery.
The group, started earlier this year, had sparse attendance at its initial meeting. The group met again last week, and based on the numbers, interest is growing.
“It was excellent,” Brixius said. “It was much better in terms of attendance and content.”
Nearly 30 people attended last week’s meeting, which included comments by Rangely Police Chief Vince Wilczek, Rio Blanco County Undersheriff Mike Joos and Sgt. Roy Kinney, RBC Sheriff’s investigator, who lives in Rangely.
“The meeting went well and was a lot better attended than I expected,” Joos said. “There was good participation.”
That’s one of the aims of the Trinity Project — to get local people involved.
“That’s what the police need, they need our eyes,” said Elaine Urie, a member of the Rangely Town Council and one of the organizers of the Trinity Project. “It’s just about being neighborly.”
The Trinity Project doesn’t encourage people to take the law into their hands.
“What we’re aiming at right now is trying to put together a program along the lines of Neighborhood Watch, so communities can help themselves. It’s not a vigilante effort. It’s a passive approach to help control this activity in their neighborhoods,” Brixius said. “It will take the whole community to make this work. We had some really positive feedback from citizens on some of the things they are already doing that are having a positive effect, because, frankly, they’re not going to tolerate it. They won’t engage the suspect, but they will witness and report. When they see somebody doing something suspicious, they make their presence known.
“Secrecy is their (those selling and using drugs) defense … if all of a sudden it’s not so secret, and everybody knows about it, and everybody is taking part in identifying it, it makes it very hard for them to operate in our community,” Brixius added.
Urie said she senses the effort is starting to have an impact.
“What I see is some of these people (drug users and sellers) are starting to get paranoid,” she said. “People are starting to pay attention. They’re starting to talk to each other.”
The community’s drug problem is symptomatic of a bigger issue, Urie said, which is where the compassion and recovery component of Trinity Project comes in.
“It’s a heart problem,” Urie said. “They’re all looking for love in the wrong places. That’s what it’s all about, knowing that somebody cares if they’re clean.”
Added Brixius, “We realize incarceration and enforcement are only part of the answer. That many of these people will not respond to that and things will get worse in their lives. We’re talking about what we as a community can do to improve lives through mentoring. There are people in this community who have been down this road and come out on the other side. They are solid citizens now, and there’s something they can do to help.”
For information about the Trinity Project, call Urie at 675-5766.