Opinion: Recent arrests won’t end drug epidemic in Massena, town supervisor says
Friday, June 16, 2017 - 10:58 am

To the Editor:

Massena is at a crossroads. We can continue down the same path and expect a different end, or we can change our standards and expectations, and work for a better outcome and a stronger, healthier community.

First, thank you to all law enforcement agencies who worked many long hours over weeks and months to plan and execute “Operation Gravy Train.” And thanks to the Massena Drug Free Coalition for your hard work and willingness to put together the “Take Back Our Community” rally this evening in Veterans Memorial Park.

When those arrested in the recent drug bust were arraigned in St. Lawrence County Court yesterday, I noticed 8 of the defendants had a Massena address. Some of these people have been released back to our community. It is very important to remember that all of these people are innocent until proven guilty.

However, it is also important that Massena stands up and says to those in our community who want to spread death, violence and drug abuse that your actions are not welcome in our community. And if you persist in this behavior, you as a person are not welcome in our community.

Some of you may be our friends and relatives, but we will no longer sit quietly by while you continue to destroy our community and kill our fellow citizens.

Whether born and raised in Massena, or someone who has chosen to live here, we will hold you to a high standard. As residents, we must send a message to those defendants who have come back to Massena that we are watching you.

If you came to Massena to sell drugs and take advantage of vulnerable people, we don’t want you here. If you’re a Massena native, we don’t want you to stay here if you sell drugs and mistreat people.

And those of us who live here, try to help others and lead productive lives, must as a community have the courage to stand up to these evildoers, hold them accountable and tell them there is no place for them and there illicit trade in our Town.

That may be scary to some people, but we must do it.

I understand some suffer from addiction. I realize how difficult and unmanageable a life of addiction can become. I have been on the board of an addiction treatment facility for 30 years. I don’t judge addicts or disrespect them and I honestly hope they receive treatment and successfully live a clean and sober life.

But if you are an addict, refuse to seek treatment and insist on selling drugs to feed other addicts and suck others into your world, you are not welcome here.

My position may offend some, others may embrace it. Most important is that we come together in a dialogue to tackle this problem and address it.

It won’t end with the recent arrests. Ultimately, it won’t end until we stand up as a community and put an end to our own epidemic of complacency and acceptance.

Joseph D. Gray

Supervisor

Town of Massena