By Larry Kline/Havre Daily Newsemail@example.com
The Havre Community Skate Park may be open for business, but the city has not yet ironed out how it will pay for the total cost of construction.
Havre City Council members on Monday will consider a proposal forwarded by the Finance Committee to move about $20,000 gained from a sale of city land to pay the balance due on the skate park.
The Havre Community Skate Park, which opened in November, was originally estimated to cost about $80,000.
The total cost will be about $92,000, city finance director Lowell Swenson said today.
Swenson estimated that the city is $35,000 short of what it needs to pay for the park. If the City Council approves using the $20,000 raised from the land sale, the city will still be $15,000 short.
The city raised about $49,900 for the construction of the park, Swenson said. The money included a Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks grant worth $24,900. Much of the rest of the money was donated.
The city raised $20,000 from the sale of a 1.5-acre lot in Highland Park to Richard Svedahl last month. The sale was approved by the City Council last summer, Swenson said.
Rice said extra costs above the $20,000 transfer may be covered by money the city is saving by not immediately hiring a replacement for Dave Wilson, the parks and recreation director who retired at the end of last year.
Chris Inman, who runs the city swimming pool, is serving as interim director, and a new full-time director will not be hired until March, Rice said. He said he is not sure who will replace Wilson.
There have been money problems with the park in the past. In July, the city found that Rec Ramps, a Canadian company that was to supply the equipment, had gone out of business. The city had sent the company a check for $15,700, but the compaand auditory hallucinations. Users often find their teeth rotting out and their weight falling drastically.
They also find their lives falling apart.
One of the most striking, and shocking, things about the inroads that meth has made in Montana is the way the drug has hit women. The number of women entering treatment for drug addiction is usually considerably lower than men, said Peg Shea, director of Turning Point Addiction Services. But that's not true with meth.
Recent state figures show women made up 49 percent of the patients treated for a primary addiction to meth in fiscal 2004. That's up almost 10 percent from two years ago, and significantly higher than the percentage treated for other primary addictions. Just 24 percent of patients seeking marijuana treatment are women, and women make up only 29 percent of alcohol-treatment patients.
Statewide, about 20 percent of the child-protection referrals that come in to family services involve meth in some way. That number is troubling, but it's not as alarming as this one: Of the 137 children in the department's care in Missoula last May, 53 were there for meth-related reasons. That is almost 40 percent.
''What that means is that when meth is involved in a child-welfare matter, there's a much higher chance that children will be removed from a home,'' Walrod said. ''Meth is such a dangerous drug, for so many reasons, we just can't afford to not take an action most of the time.''
Family services is just one segment of government that has found itself overrun by the plague that methamphetamine use has visited on Montana women.
Of the 19 women currently living at the Missoula prerelease center, which houses prisoners who've been to prison in addition to those whose offenses don't quite warrant prison, 73 percent have meth-related problems. Worse, those women have 35 children who become part of the system along with their mothers.
The Montana State Prison for Women in Billings is full for the first time ever, and the reason, according to judges and prosecutors, is overwhelmingly meth.
Probation and parole officers are finding those convicted of meth-related offenses much more difficult to deal with. They lapse in treatment programs, some of which aren't set up to deal with meth's powerful addiction. And they do poorly at meeting the requirements of either probation or parole.
Most of the women who've finally been sent to the women's prison have committed numerous offenses, prosecutors say. Most often, they get convicted of a meth-related offense, either using the drug or committing some property crime to get money to buy the drug. Those women often get deferred or suspended sentences, then fail repeatedly while on probation because the drug is so hard to kick.
''Usually, it's the case that the judge doesn't have any other place to put them,'' said Sam Lemaich, who heads the state probation and parole offices for western Montana. ''We've tried everything we have, short of locking them up.''
Marilyn Lemaich, retired director of treatment services at the prerelease center run by Missoula Correctional Services, said the center often sees its meth offenders on a repeat basis.
''In a lot of cases, we only have them for six months, and that's not really enough time to get their treatment finished,'' she said. ''Plus, getting away from meth means getting away from everything about the person's past lifestyle.''
When Scott Brodie transferred into the Missoula Police Department's narcotics division in 1997, meth wasn't the department's top problem.
''Marijuana was the No. 1 drug back then, and that's where we spent most of our time,'' said Brodie, who is now a sergeant. ''We heard about meth in California and out on the coast, but we didn't seem to have too much of it coming through here.''
By 2000, meth was more common. Four years later, it's the department's most serious problem in the drug arena.
''We have more marijuana cases still, but meth causes far more problems for us,'' Brodie said. Violence, health, explosions and fires at clandestine labs where meth is made are just some of the problems that stem from the drug.
''In most of the meth lab situations that we've encountered, you wind up with children in the equation somehow,'' said Walrod, at Child and Family Services. ''These places are just toxic, and we've got children crawling around on the floor. So many of the kids we take out of the home are testing positive for meth.''
When police and family services workers go into a home where meth is being used or made, they encounter an almost stereotypical situation.
''I don't know what it is about this drug, but it's almost like a recipe that makes up a meth user,'' said Walrod. ''There's going to be a mess that makes it likely that kids are getting into this stuff. There are going to be guns. And there's going to be pornography. I can't tell you how often we find all sorts of porno stuff in the children's bedrooms. It's just what happens.''
The final block in the stereotype is this: a woman, most often with children, who has hooked up with a man who can provide her with the drug.
''Almost all of these situations involve women in a situation where men have control over the situation,'' said Tammera Nauts, a licensed addictions counselor at Turning Point in Missoula. ''The woman has gotten into the drug and needs a source. That's usually a man who she convinces herself that she loves, but she really loves the drug. Often there's domestic violence. Usually the woman isn't working. And way too often, she has children that she's neglecting and putting in danger.''
Nauts has seen these women in her counseling office. Brodie has arrested them. And Walrod has taken their children away from them.
There's more than enough heartbreak in those situations to go around.
''This drug is a massive black hole,'' Walrod said. ''It's swallowing these people alive. It takes a miracle to put these families back together again."