The Baxter County Sheriff’s Office, Baxter County Judge’s Office, and many other community partners are sponsoring “Operation Drop Off” on Saturday July 24th from 9 AM to 2 PM at the Baxter County Fairgrounds. Operation Drop Off is a program designed to get unused prescription and non-prescription medications and even illegal drugs out of the home and out of the hands of our youth AND to keep our waterways clean and chemical free. A Press Conference was held today at 2:00 PM at the Sheriff’s Office to announce and publicize the event.
A monetary donation from Roller Funeral Home has allowed the Sheriff’s Office to purchase a portable incinerator that will be used to destroy the drugs and medications. Operation Drop Off is a FREE, “No Questions Asked” drop off clinic that is designed to educate members of the community to the dangers posed to the environment, youth, and others in the community. There will be no need for people to get out of their cars. They can just drive through and pass the medications or drugs through the window. Local agencies and pharmacists will process the drugs and incinerate them.
Research has shown that Arkansas has the worst teen prescription pain reliever abuse problem in the entire United States. Arkansas has consistently ranked among the top ten states with the highest rate of non-medical use of pain relievers by 12 to 22 year old individuals since 2002. Arkansas’ sixth graders have been shown to abuse prescription drugs more than any other substances except alcohol and cigarettes. Many of those children between 12 to 17 years of age reported they obtained prescription pain relievers and stimulants from friends or relatives 71% of the time, often stolen from medicine cabinets of those who have the prescriptions. It is vitally important for the safety of our youth that unused and unneeded prescription medications be properly disposed of.
In the past, flushing medications and drugs seemed to be a safe and responsible method of disposal. We now realize that the drugs do not completely disintegrate and are contaminating our waterways. Wastewater treatment plants and septic systems are not generally designed to treat pharmaceutical waste. The risk to the health of our waters is significant when we contribute to pollution by what we pour down our drains. Not only drugs and medications pollute our water, but also disposing of motor oil, paint products, fertilizers, and pesticides also contaminate our water supply. When it rains, most streets and county roads collect the storm-water runoff and route it into drainage areas. This is routed directly into our creeks, rivers, and lakes.
Research has shown that continuous exposure to low levels of medications has altered the behavior and physiology of fish and aquatic organisms. Norfork and Bull Shoals lakes serve as the primary drinking water source for much of the region. This potential contamination of our drinking water source – with drugs and chemicals- places our drinking water supply at unnecessary risk.
In addition to the medications and drugs that may be dropped off for disposal, representatives from the Baxter County Judge’s Office will be on hand to collect FROM BAXTER COUNTY RESIDENTS ONLY hazardous waste, such as old paint cans, solvents, cleaners, bleach, pool chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, batteries, fluorescent bulbs and ballasts, old fire extinguishers, propane tanks, and other similar household waste. Those coming to the fairgrounds with household hazardous wastes will be directed to a separate line to have those items unloaded. Additional details on exactly what hazardous items will be accepted may be found at www.baxtercounty.org .
The first 750 people who drive through with items for disposal will be given a “goodie bag” with different items from area merchants and organizations.
The Sheriff’s Office is very gratified that so many businesses, organizations, and professionals have come together to provide solutions for the daily problems the community faces in dealing with waste disposal in a safe and responsible manner.
Our Corporate Sponsors and Community Partners are:
Baxter County Judge’s Office
Roller Funeral Homes
Baxter County Sheriff’s Foundation, Inc.
Baxter County Coroner’s Office
Baxter County Health Department
Baxter Regional Medical Center
Baxter County Day Service Center
The Baxter Bulletin
Hospice of the Ozarks
Friends of the North Fork and White Rivers
Kirby Funeral Home
Sonic of Mountain Home
The Salvation Army
Persons having questions or needing additional information concerning the disposal of medications or drugs may contact the Sheriff’s Office at 870-425-7000. Those having questions regarding the disposal of hazardous household wastes may contact the County Judge’s Office at 870-425-2755.
/s/ John F. Montgomery,
Baxter County Sheriff