Community residents, school officals take back Topton

Wanting to address drug concerns in the community, a group of concerned parents, teachers and administrators filed in to fill about the front third of the Brandywine Heights Middle School auditorium in Topton May 20.

After the loss of several Brandywine Heights young adults to drug abuse and a police raid which resulted in a dozen arrests, many in the community began to call for action.

On April 1, Superintendent Andrew Potteiger and his administration held a first community meeting to address the growing concerns about the prevalence of heroin and similar narcotics within the district. The original meeting drew a crowd of 600 or so, packing the auditorium and drawing press coverage and the attention of State Senator Judy Schwank.

At this meeting, the umbrella Brandywine Heights Community group was born, and based on the input of community members, five action subgroups were created: Community Activities, Community Safety, Education, Resource Awareness, and Support. Each group was assigned a leader or two so as to ensure proper implementation and compartmentalization of combative measures.

At the May 20 meeting, the communitys third, leaders of each action group spoke briefly before a unified audience about their progress and plans for future endeavors. Resource Awareness Group leader Dax Funderburk, Mertztown, spoke briefly after his report to give credit to Potteigers efforts to organize the community.

He was the only man who could have done this, said Funderburk about Potteiger, initiating the loudest applause of the evening. When he handed the microphone back to Potteiger, he gave credit to the community and his administration.

It is you folks that are going to be here leading this charge, he said to another loud round of applause.

The groups then split up, each taking a classroom to undergo their specific task.

In the Support group room, discussion turned toward establishment of a local division of Narcotics Anonymous. This is one of the groups primary goals, along with incorporating as an official non-profit, for the next few weeks. The group has a website which can be accessed at bhctaskforce.com.

They also have a Facebook page.

The group is planning several events within the next few weeks. On June 4, just a day before the high school graduation, community member Nikki Yergey will lead a cleaning event at Bullet Boardwalk Park in Topton. Then, on Saturday June 7, they plan to host a Take Back Our Park Night from 3 to 7 p.m. at Bullet Boardwalk park.

Its important to have a strong showing because everyone is watching, Funderburk said.

At the Take Back Our Park Night there will be a kickball game, wiffle ball game, basketball game, bake sale, refreshments available for purchase, and music. The event is intended to promote other upcoming group events and generally help raise awareness for the group. Their next meeting will be held on July 9 in the Brandywine Heights Middle School auditorium at 6:30 p.m.?