Walland residents fight meth problem
By Wes Wade | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
When it comes to methamphetamine, Walland residents have had enough. That was the message a group of Walland residents, known as “Take Back Walland,” made to area law enforcement during a community meeting Thursday night at Music Row in Maryville.
A group of about 15 concerned members of the Walland community met with several area officials Thursday for a dialogue concerning the growing trend of methamphetamine production in Blount County.
Lifelong Walland resident James Frye said he’d like to see his neighbors band together to fight that trend. Frye, who works as an insurance adjuster, said in recent years he’s received multiple calls concerning meth lab cleanup at residences mainly in southeast Kentucky and Scott and Campbell counties in Tennessee. He said he wants to fight meth production in his own hometown before the problem gets worse.
“I think it goes deeper than crime,” Frye said. “And (I’d) just like to see some pride in Walland.”
Jeff Barbra, who lives on Barb Hollow Road, said he and fellow Walland resident Eric Keeble started the group a couple of months back after two meth labs were busted near their homes within a month of one another.
“We got to talking about it and said ‘Hey, this has gotten out of hand,’” Barbra said. “We’re just fed up.”
Tiffany Guthridge, who lives near Barbra, said she and several other mothers in the neighborhood have been working together for years to keep meth and crime out of the area.
“There’s a lot of teenagers and kids in the neighborhood, and we’d like to nip it in the bud before our kids get into that,” Guthridge said, adding that there have been several thefts in the area believed to be related to drug use.
“One-pot” labs growing
Representatives from the Blount County Sheriff’s Office and 5th Judicial Drug Task Force joined Blount County Mayor Ed Mitchell at the event to field questions from attendees.
Questions ranged from how to properly report suspicious behavior to identifying disposed meth labs or signs of active labs at neighboring residences.
5th Judicial Drug Task Force Captain Ron Talbott brought a reconstruction of a “one-pot” meth lab, a quick and easy way of cooking meth that has grown in popularity.
“It’s easier, it’s simpler, it’s faster,” Talbott said. “That just makes it that much more attractive for the cooks.”
Talbott explained that the “one-pot” or “shake-and-bake” labs typically consist of two plastic bottles — most often soda or sports drink containers — that are mobile and easily disposable. He said residents are likely to find them discarded along the side of the road, but that it’s important officials are notified immediately and that such containers are left alone.
“If someone opens that bottle, they can react once opened,” Talbott said. “They can explode.”
Officials said these bottles often display a smoky or burnt look to them and sometimes have plastic tubing attached to the drinking end.
“It’s a violent, violent reaction when this process is taking place,” Talbott said. “The bottle will swell and become burnt-looking.”
Blount County officials said they’ve found 14 meth labs so far this year and that the popularity of these “one-pot” labs have contributed to these high numbers.