Growing drug concern in Abbeville

Published: Dec. 10, 2019 at 11:13 PM CST
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Some citizens in Abbeville are growing concerned with what they are calling a growing drug problem in the small town.

Gregory Grimsley organized a town hall meeting at Monica's Crab Shack back in November, inviting Abbeville Mayor Billy Helms to hear citizens concerns over what Grimsley calls a growing drug problem in Abbeville.

“The main thing is this quick fix, they call it synthetic weed" Grimsley said.

Grimsley says he invited the mayor and the city council to the second meeting that took place earlier in December.

"everybody is invited to come out and try to get this problem addressed and get it fixed" Grimsley explained.

Mayor Helms says he wants to help solve the problem but claims he did not know there was a second meeting.

"They didn't tell me, or any council member knew about this meeting" says Helms.

He says he and council members would be prohibited from going even if he knew about the meeting.

"I mean the sunshine law says, all members cannot combine in one place without breaking the law."

That sunshine law was amended in 2015 and is now the open meetings act which gives Alabamians open access to governmental bodies that conduct the people's business.

Based on the law, Helms was allowed to attend the second meeting but claims his lawyer told him not to attend.

"The way I understand it, I checked on it last week, ran it through our lawyer, and he says you absolutely cannot" Helms exclaimed.

Despite all of this, Helms says he is aware of the drug problem and wants something to be done, but says there is no money for an in-patient drug rehabilitation center.

"It's not going to come to Abbeville unless you get federal funds to help you because the money is not here."

The lack of rehab centers is beginning to concern business owners in Abbeville.

Russell Peterman, owner of Monica's Crab Shack says "the people are not able to work because of their addiction, then it's going to affect the business because you can't get good employees and if you can't get good employees then there's no money in the town."

He continues "now you have to hire people to come outside of the town, so it costs you more money and it just becomes a domino effect actually is what it is."

Mayor Helms believes that it is the police department that needs to be doing more.

"In my opinion, a drug problem is only as good as your police department."

WTVY spoke with the Abbeville police department and they say that Mayor Helms cut their budget by $65,000.

If you would like to attend the next town hall meeting to voice your concerns about the drug problem, it will be held on January 7th at Monica's Crab Shack in Abbeville at 6pm.