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Drug crime

Published July 30. 2011 09:01AM

"There's a big drug problem in Lehighton," said borough councilman Scott Rehrig. "Something has to be done."

Rehrig made the comment after three individuals complained about drug use in the community, and more specifically about a situation which occurred last year in the Community Grove during which two teenagers were allegedly beaten.

The council was told by the grandmother of one of the victims that "15 people" participated in the beating.

Retaliation by the father of one victim resulted in a prison sentence for the dad, she added.

"The whole town is aware of the drug problem," Donna Kershner of Mahoning Township told council. "Nothing is being done."

"What's it going to take?" she asked. "Some child to get killed before the town does something?"

She complained about the alleged lack of cooperation she received from a member of the police department regarding the situation at the Community Grove.

Both Mayor Donald Rehrig and Police Corporal Neil Ebbert promised to check into the matter.

Paula Sebellin of Mahoning Street also complained about the assaults, stating the second boy was beaten for trying to help the first boy.

Despite the large number of individuals involved, she said only two of the assailants got arrested. Both were juveniles who got house arrest.

A third person who spoke to council on the topic was Tammy Cooks.

"I spent four years in the military. I come back here. It's totally different," she said, adding that she's concerned about her two-year-old grandson.

"I'm afraid for him to grow up here," she said, (because of the) "drugs, gangs, beatings."

Councilman Rehrig said police officers aren't at the scene when a crime is committed. He stressed that police rely on information supplied by the public.

"People have to step-up to the plate and give the information," he said.

Cook said she is going to look into the possibility of having a Guardian Angels unit formed locally.

A similar effort was made a number of years ago but it was determined by the organization that there wasn't enough interest.

Cook said several young people have died in the past year in the Lehighton area due to drugs.

"It's depressing that people don't come forward," said councilman Rehrig, a retired state trooper.

He urged witnesses to criminal activity to "give names, addresses, and phone numbers to the police department, and be willing to be interviewed."

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