I love Meigs County, and I love living here. I want Meigs County to be a place that everyone who lives here is proud to call home and that everyone who doesn’t live here, can’t wait to visit. I want Meigs County to succeed and prosper in all aspects, and I want all of us to experience the best of life right here at home.
Combating the drug issues our community faces is something that weighs heavy on my mind and heart. I don’t want people to continue to kill themselves with heroin. I don’t want children to grow up with one parent in prison and another in the cemetery. I don’t want drugs to wreck Meigs County any more than they already have. Being known for drug abuse will give any community a black eye, and I don’t want that for Meigs County.
While I work hard as prosecuting attorney to punish those who prey upon our weak, and to facilitate the steps to recovery for those who desperately need it, I always wonder if there is more that I can do. I have hosted a recovery services town hall meeting. I attend prevention meetings. I read books and articles about prevention and recovery all the time. I talk to our youth about maintaining a sober lifestyle. I’m proud to have been a part of an amazing drug prevention program at the county fair this year. I pray. I pray for recovery and prevention and eradication. Some of my efforts are more successful than others, but I never stop trying, and I am always thinking about what else I can do. #recreatemeigscounty is the next thing I am trying.
Some of our youth will become addicted to any number of drugs. The best way to keep them from becoming addicted and from going to jail or prison and from going to rehab and from overdosing and dying, is to expose them to the myriad prevention messages with the hopes that one of those messages resonates with them and they choose to never engage in drug abuse in the first place.
Some of our youth cannot wait to leave Meigs County for any number of reasons, and many do leave. Some come back, some don’t. The best way to keep them at home, to live here, to work here, to develop business here, is to instill in them at a very early age a love for Meigs County.
I was recently asked how we keep the youth of Meigs County drug free. There is no one answer to that question, but one way is recreation. Those who recreate, those who actively engage in our community, those who find passion and love for something they do, in my opinion, have a better chance of choosing and maintaining a path in life where they don’t engage in drug abuse.
I was also recently asked how to keep our youth in Meigs County after they graduate high school, to work here, to raise a family here, to be engaged in our community, to help build a better Meigs County. There is no one answer to that question either, but one way is to re-create the image of Meigs County. Dispel the negative image and foster the positive image. Strive to change the negative things and highlight the positive things of our community.
While running one evening, the idea of the hashtag #recreatemeigscounty popped into my mind. Recreate to stay drug free. Re-create the image of Meigs County to help us all grow in a positive direction. Recreate. Re-create. #recreatemeigscounty.
So I thought if I posted to social media pictures of the many wonderful recreational activities available in our community, doing so might touch at least one child who might fall in love with that particular activity so much so that they would never let a drug steal that recreation away from them. And I thought if people see these positive images of our community, maybe, just maybe, those who hold a negative view of Meigs County will realize this is an amazing place to live, maybe businesses will move here, and maybe our youth will choose to stay here after high school, to work here, maybe start a business of their own, to start a family here. To live their lives here. To help Meigs County be the best Meigs County possible.
I also thought maybe no one will care and this social media campaign won’t gain traction, and that’s quite possible. And that’s okay. But the thought that I could help just one person makes me think this is a pretty good idea. My hope is that folks on social media will start tagging some of their pictures and posts with #recreatemeigscounty so others can see why they are proud to live here. Taking a jog on the Pomeroy walking path? Playing guitar on your back porch? Reading a book you checked out at the library? Sitting in your tree stand as the sun rises on opening day? Playing a round of golf? Taking a hike through the woods? Watching a Friday night football game? Enjoying some BBQ chicken at the firehouse? Take a picture and give it the hashtag. Show others, that despite the reputation of drug abuse, there are many things in Meigs County to keep our youth drug free, and, at the same time, help re-create the image of Meigs County. Even if no one else does, I will periodically use the #recreatemeigscounty hashtag and hope it touches the heart, mind, and soul of that one person who needs it most.
James K. Stanley is the Meigs County Prosecuting Attorney.