Drug abuse in Valley City has locals worried

VALLEY CITY, N.D. (Valley News Live) - A Valley City man says he's fed up with drug abuse in his town—and he's especially worried about his neighborhood, where he says many children live.

"I don't get scared of much,” Lance Peterson, who lives near the broken road next to Mill Dam, says. “But I worry about the kids and stuff coming through here."

Peterson says he walks the path often: it's between his home and shop, behind the area locals refer to as the broken road by Mill Dam. But he says it's not the safest.

"There's people coming in and out of here, and...there's meth, there's drugs being dealt, but there's drugs being done back here," he says.

Peterson says it was right in the middle of the path a couple months ago that he encountered a scare.

"I found a gal, unconscious back there,” he says, “I thought she was dead...Her eyes were rolled back, they came back around in her sockets."

And just this past weekend:

"Saturday, Sunday there was a naked guy back there, hollering for a half hour," Peterson says.

Indeed, a police report says Saturday a man was charged with indecent exposure, resisting arrest and ingesting a controlled substance.

Valley City Police Chief Phil Hatcher tells Valley News Live there's been 57 drug-related calls so far this year and 94 in 2018 on the broken road alone.

But many say it's not just that area of town:

Peterson posted his concerns to Facebook Wednesday morning and within hours, more than 80 comments followed—most echoing his distress.

"I just want the people to be aware of what's going on,” Peterson says, “that's the main reason why I posted it."

Another concerned neighbor in the area tells us she started meetings to try to combat the drug issue in the area two years ago. But she says they never gained much traction.

So what should be done about it?

"The police in town are doing what they can, it's not a police issue," Peterson says.

Peterson says he was at City Hall Tuesday requesting the broken road area be bulldozed. As for the larger issue of drugs in the city, Public Health tells us it was granted $250,000 dollars over three years starting in 2018 through the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA), to be used mainly for the opioid crisis. But they're working to put the money to use for any drug abuse.

"I feel for the people,” Peterson says, “I really do, it's a bad thing, it catches you and it doesn't let go."

The Valley City mayor declined an interview, but tells us he does believe there's a serious issue with drugs in the area. And in fact, he's been very open with the community about his own recovery. But he says the city's been working to overcome the problem. And he points out there are resources people should seek for help.

The HRSA project includes a partnership among the area’s eight-county public health region.

Public Health says it’s additionally funded by the N.D. Department of Human Services/Behavioral Health Division for community substance use prevention work on opioids and alcohol.

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