Drug education event set for Salem park

SALEM – A non-profit group known as Ohio C.A.N. Change Addiction Now plans to hold an educational event from 1 to 4 p.m. May 17 at Waterworth Memorial Park about the drug problem in Ohio and the local area.

Cindy Koumoutzis, director of the state of Ohio, Ohio C.A.N., which is a division of the national group United We C.A.N., asked the Salem Parks Commission for permission to use the park and gave some information about what’s planned.

“We’d like to have as many people there as possible,” she said.

The event will feature a walk in the first hour, followed by several speakers related to the topic of addiction and drugs, what’s out there and what can be done, including for family members of addicts besides the addicts themselves.

While describing the various groups contacted in the Salem area about the event, she mentioned a Columbiana County candidate who’s been advocating drug testing, which raised a concern from commission vice chairman Terry Hoopes about him making the drug testing a political issue.

“That to me would have no place in this,” he said.

Koumoutzis said she understood and they would keep the politics out of it.

“This is to help the community and your surrounding area deal with a horrific problem,” she said, one that she’s all too familiar with as the mother of a recovering addict.

As part of the event, she’s asking people to bring shoes representing people lost to drug addiction or still struggling with drug addiction. She wants to collect as many shoes as possible to take with her to Washington, D.C. to illustrate how big the drug problem is. In talking about the Salem area, she mentioned both heroin and meth and praised the Salem Police Department for the way it’s been stepping up enforcement.

“Our goal is to bring awareness, to educate and to share without shame,” she said.

The commission had no problem with the plans to use a pavilion and use the nature trail for a walk.

In other business, Parks Director Steve Faber updated board members on programs the parks plan to do with the Salem Public Library and said the schedule is complete for the summer concerts. He and Parks Foreman Jim Grimm both offered thanks to the Salem Shade Tree Commission and the Salem Community Foundation for the trees recently planted in the parks.

Grimm reported on some of the work his crew has been doing to get ready for pool season and get the city lake opened, along with work on the grounds at the parks and nature trail and equipment. He reported the plant exchange didn’t get a good turnout, with plans to possibly have it in May next year.

Recreation Supervisor Shane Franks reported on the start dates for Salem Junior Baseball and Salem Girls Softball, with the season already in full swing for the Salem High School girls softball junior varsity, which plays at Waterworth. He said a soccer league which plays on Sunday mornings is in place again and Realife Church is hosting a 5K run which will come through Waterworth on May 10.

He said the park website has been updated so he’ll be able to add more photographs of events as a means to promote the parks at www.salemparksandrecreation.com.

The next parks commission meeting will be held at 5 p.m. May 28.