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Members dissolve anti-drug coalition

August 9, 2011

PUNXSUTAWNEY — The Punxsy Coalition Against Drugs — formerly the Mayor’s Drug Task Force — announced Monday that it was formally disbanding.

During Monday’s Punxsutawney Borough Council meeting, coalition Secretary Barb Postlewaite said the group was writing the letter to thank council for the use of its chambers for its meetings, and to formally announce that it was dis-banding.

As of July 21, the coalition voted to fold following three-and-a-half years of fighting drugs in the Punxsy area, Postlewaite said.

“This is a sad moment for me; I believe that this town does not fully understand the drug problem in our area,” she said. “It was our group’s main goal to educate the children in our school district and borough and to teach and educate them about the danger of drugs.”

Postlewaite said the group felt it had very little backing from the community, which is why it voted to disband.

The coalition held a pool party June 10, which cost the group $1,100 and countless hours of work that was put into it by the volunteers, Postlewaite said. The coalition also spent a week in Barclay Square during the Groundhog Festival, which cost the group $817, along with a full week of volunteering to inform area youth about fun things to do instead of drugs.

Postlewaite said the group presented a program on the dangers of drugs at the Punxsutawney Area Middle and High School, which cost the coalition $1,200.

“I’m only telling you some of the expenses that our group incurred — not for you to recognize it, but for you to understand that we put our heart and soul into this group, because we believed that we could make a difference,” she said. “You must understand that we were a group of eight people most of the time, and it was this group that paid for events to happen.”

Postlewaite said the coalition never understood why few people backed it.

“We weren’t trying to do the job of the police or trying to hurt anyone. We tried to show the children that someone cares,” she said. “We thank council once again for the use of its facilities, and we know as members of borough council, you have many decisions to make, and they’re not always popular ones.”

Punxsutawney Mayor James Wehrle said Postlewaite is correct in saying there was only a handful of people doing all the work, which is why the group isn’t able to continue.

Wehrle thanked Postlewaite and everyone else who worked so hard to help fight drug abuse in Punxsy.

The coalition is attempting to reorganize in September and get more people involved, Wehrle said, adding that Postlewaite did most of the grunt work for the organization.

Council President Susan Glessner said that council appreciated everything the coalition attempted to do to help fight drugs in the community.

Police Chief Tom Fedigan said he hoped to have more involvement with the new group once it is established.

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