During his State of the City message Monday, Saline Mayor Brian Marl announced the formation of a task force aimed at battling substance abuse and addiction.
In the final six months of 2013, three city men – all in their 20s – died as a result of heroin use. The Saline Area Fire Department, which also serves Saline, Lodi and part of York Township, answers overdose calls on a routine basis.
The Saline Community Addiction Prevention Task Force, approved unanimously by city council, is charged with ensuring better cohesion among the various entities working against substance abuse and educating the community about the warning signs and dangers of substance abuse and addiction.
“Those struggling with addiction should get the help they deserve, because every life has great purpose and value,” Marl said during his address. “Although addiction is certainly not unique to Saline, we cannot simply accept it as inevitable. We must be proactive, and tireless, in working to help those who are struggling, and those at risk.”
The task force will be co-chaired by Saline Police Chief Larry Hrinik and Dr. Smita Nagpal, co-owner of Still Waters Counseling. Saline City Council member Terri Sibo, Saline Area Schools social worker Joel Benedek, Washtenaw County substance abuse coordinator Therese Doud, former school board president Trudy Driscoll, Keystone Community Church Pastor Ken Gilmore, Saline Area Fire Chief Craig Hoeft, and Saline High School counselor Mark Schuby.
Marl said members' diverse backgrounds should help the task force fulfill its charge. He invited interested community members to contact city council members, Hrinik or Nagpal.
“There are nine official members of the task force, but that certainly does not mean other stakeholders cannot play a part,” Marl said. “We want this to be a community effort.”
State Rep. Gretchen Driskell, D-Saline, pledged to offer support to the task force. Driskell said she would make her staff available and garner state resources to support the effor.