Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Law and Order in the Ozarks (LVI): Another meth lab bust

The top story for the May 5 issue of the Newton County Times is about a meth lab bust near Jasper, the county seat. The headline reports that four young adults were arrested after the Sheriff's department followed up on an anonymous tip. All four of the suspects are young adults, ranging in age from 18 to 29, and two of them live in Harrison, the county seat of neighboring Boone County. All have been charged with manufacturing methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia. Bond has been set at $100,000 for two of the defendants, and at just $10,000 and $5,000 for the other two.

In other news, the Newton County Quorum Court voted last month to put its condemned jail up for sale to the highest bidder. While a recent appraisal valued it at $30,000, one prospective buyer has reportedly already offered $40,000. Read a recent post here.

In another front-page story, the county's Justices of the Peace (JPs) are reported as making light of the report of the community health coordinator of the North Arkansas Partnership for Health Education (NAPHE). The coordinator, Cindy Miller, presented a fact sheet compiling body mass index studies conducted at the county's public schools. It indicated that 41.54% of Jasper school children are overweight or at risk of being overweight, while the figure for Mt. Judea school is 35.11%. She also presented data (apparently national, not local) showing that obesity rates have tripled in the past 30 years and that obesity rates are higher among low income families because unhealthy food typically costs less. Other data that Miller presented showed that 35.8% of Newton County children live in poverty and that 46.3% of county residents live more than a mile from a grocery store, while 7.7% of the county's households are more than a mile from a grocery store and do not have a vehicle. When Miller noted that Newton County has the advantage over neighboring Boone County of not having drive-through fast food restaurants, one of the JPs quipped that he liked those drive-through restaurants. He also complained that soda machines at the local school sell only diet soda and that you "can't get a good pop" there. Both comments drew laughter from his fellow JPs.

Needless to say, I am not amused. The reporter wrote in his lede for the story: "JPs had some laughs at their Monday night meeting, May 3, but agreed the subject was not a laughing matter." I guess I missed the part where they acknowledged the seriousness of this subject.

NAPHE is funded in part by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

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