Updated: 03/20/2014 10:36 PM
Created: 03/20/2014 9:38 PM WDIO.com
By: Maarja Anderson
It was clear by the packed convention center, synthetic drugs have had quite the impact on the Lac Courte Oreilles community.
Thursday, the tribe hosted a public forum to discuss the growing problem.
In January, the Indian Child Welfare program went to the tribal council with some serious numbers.
"There was an incredible spike in family placements, where we had to take children out of the home, in fact it was a 200% increase from a year ago," said Dianne Sullivan, the tribe's Prevention and Education Coordinator.
Through family reports, Sullivan said they learned the drugs that were primarily involved in those placements were synthetics.
LCO Chairman Mic Isham says the council quickly realized synthetics are the number one issue facing the tribe at the moment.
"So we directed the planning department to refocus their efforts, that they do for grant writing, refocus them on things that can address this issue," he said.
Isham said those efforts could include more Boys and Girls Club programs, adding social workers, or detox services in their clinics.
The chairman also said the issue goes far beyond LCO.
"For whatever reason, we've just received this influx of the synthetics drugs," said Sawyer County Sheriff Mark Kelsey.
Kelsey said it wasn't until a year ago they started seeing synthetic drug use. Because the issue is fairly new, he says the jail hasn't felt the burden yet, but the social workers and families are taking a hit.
"We've had a number of deaths and a lot of overdoses, and obviously by the forum...it has had a substantial affect on our community," said Kelsey.
The sheriff says they are working closing with LCO leaders and tribal police to come up with the best solution.
Isham recently appointed the LCO Drug Task Force. The force is made up of social workers, health care workers, law enforcement, and other departments.
Isham also said they hope to come up with ordinances to be enforced on the reservation that would help combat the sale and use of synthetics.
Special Report: Over the Limit, Under Arrest
A DWI... as many as 1 in 7 drivers have one. They also have a record... and the price tag to prove it. What will a DWI cost you?
Peterson Says 'Fresh Start' Might Be Best
Peterson tells the USA Today that he has strong support from coaches and players on the Vikings. But he also spoke about other people within the organization who aren't on his side. He tells the newspaper that it might be best "to get a fresh start somewhere else."
Duluth Airport Opens Enclosed Parking Garage, Skyway
Travelers used to parking outdoors at the Duluth International Airport are in for a change starting Friday morning when a new 4-level parking garage and glass-enclosed connecting skyway opens. Chilly temperatures in the Northland are exactly the kind of weather that has travelers excited...
PolyMet: What We're Working on Now
While the public waits for regulators to finish the environmental review for PolyMet, the company is keeping busy as well.
Mesabi Humane Society Dog Needs a Special Home
The Mesabi Humane Society is looking to find a home for dog that has been at the shelter for almost two years. The six year-old boxer mix named Twinkie needs to have surgery on her hind legs after getting hurt in a mine pit. Twinkie will only have surgery if she is adopted, and the cost of the surgery will be paid by donated funds.