The Owensboro City Commission and Daviess Fiscal Court will be coming together to discuss the community's ongoing methamphetamine problem and possible treatment grants to help those addicted to the illicit drug.

Mayor Tom Watson spearheaded the idea of having the joint session, which will also involve GRADD officials who have expertise in applying for federal money.

Although a specific meeting date has yet to be set, Watson made the announcement during Tuesday's regular City Commission meeting.

Watson said federal discretionary funding has been going to eastern Kentucky to fight the opioid crisis, prompting him to seek future grants for methamphetamine addiction.

The mayor added that the joint session will include RonSonlyn Clark, senior director of substance use and prevention services at RiverValley Behavioral Health, who will provide insight into the meth problem.

"We're going to be presenting what we're tentatively calling Daviess County versus meth," Watson said. "… We're going to invite all of the participants (in drug prevention) across this community to be there to hear, so that when these grant opportunities come out again, we'll be ready to go. 'Cause there are some for law enforcement; there are some for drug court; there are some for family drug court. There's just a myriad of opportunities to apply for funding from the federal government to combat meth."

At one time, meth was primarily manufactured locally through homemade labs with ingredients such as anhydrous ammonia, hydrochloric acid, lithium and pseudoephedrine found in cold medications. The "one-pot" method of combining cold tablets with household chemicals inside a plastic soda bottle was another form of local manufacturing.

Although state legislation has helped curb the local labs and one-pot method by restricting the ingredients at the retail level, meth itself has remained common on the street.

During the past week, there was at least one meth arrest every day for possession or trafficking reported by the Owensboro Police Department.

Andrew Boggess, OPD's public information officer, said a lot of the meth is being made in other countries such as Mexico and smuggled into the United States.

"We still have a very large problem," Boggess said. "The source of it has just changed."

In September, the Alliance for a Drug-Free Owensboro and Daviess County hosted a forum titled "Meth Crisis in Our Community" at SS. Joseph & Paul Catholic Church parish hall.

Clark, who spoke at that forum, told the group that the average addict uses $160 worth of meth a week.

Judge-Executive Al Mattingly said he welcomed the idea of the joint city-county session and he didn't hesitate when he was asked by Watson to be part of it.

"I would dare to say that our meth crisis is no less important down here as the opioid crisis is in eastern Kentucky," Mattingly said. "... It just seems that when you talk about pills, narcotics and opioids people are quick to open their coffers. But when you talk about meth, it's a little harder getting the funds."

Don Wilkins, dwilkins@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7299

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