By Brian Roebke
The Wrightstown Police Depart-ment, Brown County Public Health, and the Wrightstown Community School District partnered to host a community conversation about “Fentanyl a
Community Health Crisis” on April 3 at the Wrightstown High School Auditorium.
Superintendent Carla Buboltz said the Wrightstown Community School District has amazing studnets and staff that accomplish great things every day. She noted it’s one of the highest performing schools in both the county and state.
However, 3-5 years ago they started to see a change in some of the students. “We started to see some things that they were bringing to school that we hadn’t seen before,” she said.
They had to adapt to those challenges and meet student needs after seeing more social/emotional needs.
They now partner with Bellin Health for a community health worker whose responsibility is to connect families with services they might need for mental health or for public assistance.
The district continues to partner with family services to provide an extra school counselor. Each of the three school buildings has a dedicated counselor along with one who is shared between the middle and high schools along with an additional counselor for things like mental health crisises and more challenging situations.
“We’ve also seen some of even our young children are being impacted by challenges and crisises that’s going on in our schools and in our families,” Buboltz said. “We see kids who move from upset to aggression and violence very quickly.”
They work to help them calm down and feel safe and teach them coping skills.
Betsy, who serves as the school district’s facility dog, has helped with that as she partners with School Liaison Officer Jessica Smith.
Buboltz said it’s easier to build strong children than to repair harmed adults.
The middle and high schools both have Sources of Strength teams that help build a climate and culture of belonging. They are also working to help students restore, rebuild, and reconnect, since the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated some things that started before the pandemic.
The district is now bringing K9 dogs more frequently to check for the presence of drugs in the high school and parking lot but they’ve not found anything present.
Claire Paprocki, communications specialist with the Brown County Public Health Depart-ment, said one of the main things they want people to be aware of is what’s happening locally. “The first step to any big issue or problem that’s happening is knowledge, education, and awareness,” she said.
She said it can be a hard conversation for parents to have with their children but it has to happen.
“We want you to know this is affecting everyone,” she said. “Even if you think it’s not affecting you, it probably is.”
Drugs are easily available on social media sites like Snapchat and even the family home.
She said the county has lock boxes to help protect prescription drugs so children can’t get at them.
Anyone can have a weak moment and purchase some drugs to ease the pain or tension, from taking the ACT test, getting into the college they want to, or have a relationship issue.
Buboltz told the audience they’ve all heard the phrase, “It takes a village to raise a child,” and the school district has discovered with the opiod and fentanyl crisis that statement has never been more true.
“We need everybody,” she said.
Paprocki noted while 2022 data has yet to be finalized, 2021 data shows that there were 1,427 opioid overdose deaths across the state of Wisconsin.
In September 2022, Brown County Executive Troy Strecken-bach declared “Fentanyl a Community Health Crisis.” However, Fentanyl is not just a Brown County concern; it is killing people all over the nation at an increasing rate. In 2020, 76 percent of drug deaths in people ages 14-23 involved fentanyl. The DEA Laboratory has found that, of the fentanyl-laced fake prescription pills analyzed in 2022, 60 percent now contain a potentially lethal dose of fentanyl.
Aside from being a national, state, and county concern, it is a Wrightstown concern as well. In 2017, fentanyl claimed the life of a Wrightstown resident. The incident is the first, and only, known fentanyl death in the village to date. According to the Brown County Drug Task Force, the first fentanyl drug arrest in Brown County was also in the village.
Wrightstown Police Chief Greg Deike noted Wrightstown is located along an interstate highway between two urban centers that’s a big drug artery.
“Between 2019 and 2023 there have been approximately 33 drug-related incidents in the Village of Wrightstown, four of them involving fentanyl,” he said.
The department has used Narcan on four occasions. “One of those individuals needed four doses, which is very typical of a person that has a fentanyl-related overdose,” Deike said.
The majority of the drug arrests they make in Wrightstown are transient, but over the past few months they’ve made some arrests at a home in the village.
Streckenbach said Brown County has allocated $200,000 allocated to public health to combat this issue, part of a $9 million to come from an opioid settlement.
He has a personal stake in this, with three children ranging from college age to eighth grade.
“The reality is my children are going to be in places where there’s peer pressure, ‘it’s a good time,’” he said. “They’re going to be in that spot.”
He said it’s not like drinking a six pack of beer and smoking cigarettes in a cow pasture like was done by teenagers years ago. “This is a whole different world,” he said.
He also noted 84 percent of all drug overdoses have fentanyl involved, so this is a real issue affecting real people.
Community members learn about dangers of fentanyl
By Brian Roebke