Maddox Urges Parents to Attend March 8 Drug Forum

Dr. John Maddox.

John L. Maddox, Haverhill Public Schools’ pediatrician, addresses city councilors Tuesday night.

Educating parents to be on the lookout for signs of drug abuse is a key strategy in stemming heroin drug deaths, says John L. Maddox, Haverhill Public Schools’ pediatrician.

Maddox appeared before Haverhill city councilors Tuesday night to encourage parents to attend a drug education forum from 6 to 7 p.m., Tuesday, March 8, at Consentino School, 685 Washington St. He said the information program is consistent with Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker’s 12 strategies for combating the opioid epidemic. One of those strategies is to “Support substance use prevention education in schools,” he said.

The Consentino forum takes place in the school’s cafeteria and childcare and Spanish language translation will be available.

Fifty percent of Haverhill High School students reported in a recent survey they have tried marijuana, Maddox told councilors. He also showed a chart, supplied by Trinity EMS ambulance service, displaying incidents of drug overdoses.

Haverhill City Councilor Andy Vargas.

Haverhill City Councilor Andy Vargas.

Councilor Andy Vargas asked whether it makes sense for the city to hired a dedicated “community engagement officer,” whose job would be to encourage parents to attend such events. Vargas said grants may be available to pay for the position. Maddox said the task is currently spread out among several people. He said it is more important each middle school have its own health instructor—a stance advocated by Councilor Colin F. LePage.

“One out of every two kids tried marijuana. Some will progress to other drugs,” LePage said. He pointed to Methuen’s lower drug rates and noted that city has health instructors in all its middle schools. Last year, LePage identified a $200,000 surplus in an obscure city account and motioned to use the money to hire a second health teacher in the city’s middle schools. After an impassioned plea before the Haverhill School Committee, a second instructor was hired.

City Councilor Colin F. LePage, chairman of Administration and Finance Committee.

City Councilor Colin F. LePage.

Councilor Joseph J. Bevilacqua said many parents can’t believe their children are at risk. “It’s taken Haverhill buy surprise…parents feel helpless,” he said. Maddox said the schools are “playing catch up” to stem the problem.

In other city council business:

A motion by Bevilacqua to consider changes to Ginty Boulevard to accommodate more parking for the Haverhill Public Library and Haverhill District Court was referred to a subcommittee for study. Bevilacqua called the lack of parking spaces in the lot between the library and court house “a decades old problem.”

“There are a lot of things at play,” responded Councilor Michael S. McGonagle, explaining there could be better enforcement of parking time limits, restriping of lines on Ginty Boulevard and possible additional parking spaces on perpendicular Stage Street. These steps necessarily involve the city engineer’s office.

Councilor Melinda E. Barrett noted the state plans to reconstruct Main Street (route 125) and that might involve changes to the intersection with Ginty Boulevard. She also “a mean enforcement agent,” dealing with parking downtown, could be redirected to the court house for a time.

Before proceeding with any plan, Councilor William J. Macek suggested the council obtain “buy in” from Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini. He explained the mayor controls department heads and is responsible for initiating the budget process.

One thought on “Maddox Urges Parents to Attend March 8 Drug Forum

  1. And just HOW would a Community Engagement Officer “Encourage parents to attend such events?” Sounds as though Andy is living in LA-LA land if he thinks ENCOURAGEMENT is going to spur parents on to attend events. Is Andy suggesting Gestapo tactics? Are students to be given a detention if their parents fail to attend an event? Would he suggest a “list” of parents who do not attend events? Just one more way to spend OUR money. Grant money has to come from somewhere…. and it is our TAXES that pay for these grants.