‘Operation Drop Off' was a huge success. The event, which has been planned for the past 6 weeks, came together at the Baxter County Fairgrounds in Mountain Home. 492 vehicles drove through the Fairgrounds dropping off old prescription medications and hazardous household waste. The Baxter County Sheriff's Office and the Baxter County Judge's Office put on the event designed to take old prescription medications and hazardous household waste out of the homes and out of the waterways in our community.
119,192 pills of various types were dropped off during the event. Prescription and over the counter medications were dropped off, many being scheduled narcotics. The prescription drug take back was organized by Lt. Terry Johnson and Investigators Brad Lewis and Brad Hurst. The goal by the Sheriff's Office was to take in around 70,000 pills. The number counted, 119,192 far exceeded expectations. Five pharmacists from local pharmacies volunteered their time to sort and count the medications. The drugs will be incinerated next week once a court order is obtained. The drug incinerator was purchased for the Baxter County Sheriff's Office by Roller Funeral Homes of Arkansas.
The event was organized and designed to give citizens a place to dispose of their medications and hazardous waste. Studies have shown that chemicals and prescriptions are getting into our streams, rivers, and waterways at an alarming rate. There have been traces of prescription medications found in the waterways in 30 states. Arkansas is listed as number one in abuse by prescription pain medications by teenagers.
People had to wait in line at times for more than 90 minutes to be able to drop off their items. Some had only prescriptions or hazardous waste, but the vast majority had both. They dropped off their old medications and then proceeded on to drop off their hazardous waste. The event was scheduled to be from 9 am to 2 pm. Everyone that was in line at 2 pm was allowed to drop off their items. The last vehicle dropped off their hazardous paint and chemicals at around 3:45 pm.
Sheriff John Montgomery stated "This event was awesome. It far exceeded expectations. We appreciate so much people's patience. 99% of the people were great, most saying thank you to the deputies as they drove through even after waiting in line for more than an hour. We were able to get almost 120 thousand pills out of the homes and potentially out of the hands of our youth and out of our waterways. What an awesome community we live in. I cannot image living anywhere else."
The County Judges Office estimated between 10 to 11 tons of paints; chemicals and hazardous waste were dropped off. Volunteers from several organizations helped unload, sort and stack the materials. Members from CERT (Citizens emergency response team), Friends of the North Fork and White Rivers, Baxter Day Service Center, and many others helped with the event. The Salvation Army provided food and water to all of the volunteers.
Judge Joe Bodenhamer stated "the event far exceeded our expectations. This is the third time we have put on a hazardous household waste cleanup, that last being about 8 years ago. This by far was the most materials and hazardous waste we have ever received. Working with the Baxter County Sheriff's Office on this event has obviously made this a great success for both of us. In the end, the people are the one that benefited"
The Sheriff's Office is working on a permanent drop site for old prescription medications and should announce a solution in the next 3 to 4 weeks and plan on participating in the National ‘Drug Take Back Event' schedule on September 25.
We again thank everyone for the participation and their patience.
Sheriff John Montgomery