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Wilson County 'leading edge' against meth production

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Lebanon Mayor Philip Craighead speaks to those attending City Chat Wednesday morning at the Lebanon Chamber of Commerce. Emergency Service Unit Director Mike Justice is seen behind with William Glover, E.S.U coordinator at left. DALLUS WHITFIELD/The Wilso

The Lebanon-Wilson Chamber of Commerce presented "City Chat" on Wednesday at their office on the Lebanon Public Square. The series of planned monthly meetings allows community leaders and chamber members to gather and keep updated on city happenings.

This month's meeting welcomed Lebanon Mayor Philip Craighead, Economic Development Director Helene Cash, Emergency Service Unit Director Mike Justice and more.

After being prompted by a concerned citizen, who identified herself as a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) volunteer, Justice addressed how emergency personnel and law enforcement are dealing with drug-related issues.

One of the most dangerous issues they are currently facing is known as "shake-and-bake." Shake-and-bake refers to a method used to make methamphetamine.

"It is a process some meth head across the world came up with - where they have taken what used to require a lab the size of this room and condensed it into a 20 ounce bottle," he said, adding that numerous chemicals are added to the bottle and then "shaken" putting meth-makers and their surrounding environments at-risk of an explosion.

Justice compared it to walking up to a house "that has dynamite inside" for responders. "Our community is on the leading edge as far as response. Our Sheriff (Robert Bryan) is progressive thinking," he said. "As far as response goes, we are up there with the big cities."

However, Justice did admit that they are still actively combating the meth trend daily. He said that a local drugstore is one of the top stores in the nation when it comes to the sale of Pseudoephedrine - an over-the-counter drug used when making meth.

"Meth is one oxygen molecule away from Pseudoephedrine," he explained. "A lot of drugstores call us when they see a problem."

After a meth lab or rolling meth lab is found, Justice said they have to "decontaminate" the area - by washing down "anything living" inside, including children and pets.

"We don't do any cleanup. We do the decontamination of the people inside the home and the officers who go into the house. We breakdown labs and render it safe and then another company comes in for cleanup."

He said that the homeowner is responsible for cost of cleanup - which on one occasion was more than the price of the home. "A lot of what we run into is rental homes, so that is left to the homeowner. You can't release it until there is a clean bill."

The next City Chat will be held Wednesday, July 8, and feature speakers Lebanon Finance Commissioner Robert Springer and Lebanon Police Chief Michael VanHook.

Staff Writer Sabrina Garrett may be contacted at sgarrett@wilsonpost.com.

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