Local recovery advocate George Colon spoke at the Indian River County Commission meeting on January 31st, 2023 advocating for the creation of a Sober Home registry.
Colon spoke in great detail about the issues surrounding the national fentanyl drug crisis and inaction of those in power in solving the ongoing situation.
In the background of Colon talking was a painting he made himself, that shows the drug crisis at hand and included statistics surrounding the drug issue.
Colon praised Indian River County Commissioner Laura Moss (R-Vero Beach), Indian River County Sheriff Eric Flowers on understanding of the severity of the Fentanyl Crisis, while others have not acknowledged the severity of the issue.
Colon also acknowledged Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s remarks on the Fentanyl Crisis in the State of Florida.
Colon said he has support from Congressman Bill Posey (R-Rockledge) and Florida State Senator Debbie Mayfield (R-Indiatlantic) on his efforts to fight the Fentanyl Crisis.
Mayfield previously represented Indian River County along with part of Brevard County in the Florida State Senate up until redistricting in 2022, removing Indian River County from Mayfield’s State Senate District.
Colon said Sober Homes that have been opening in recent years have been a disaster and not properly certified, giving more reason to Colon’s efforts to create a Sober Home Registry.
Colon mentioned only two Sober Homes in Indian River County have accreditation from Florida Association of Recovery Residences (FARR), the organization that provides certification to Sober Homes that meet the proper standards from their organization.
According to Colon, there are 10 Sober Homes that are “operating under the radar” in Indian River County, Florida.
Colon said he was “tithered” six months prior when he heard a member of local law enforcement had the “audacity to say that there might be a problem in Indian River County” with Fentanyl. Colon said the person who made the comment about Fentanyl should be “filling burgers at McDonalds” and said “that guy should not be in law enforcement.”
Colon would not name the member of law enforcement who made that comment.
Colon said many people in Indian River County have been affected by the Fentanyl Crisis and said others will be affected as the crisis continues to worsen.
Colon found outside of those who are directly dealing with the Fentanyl Crisis, he’s found no one has taken the issue seriously, including some local government officials.
Colon was critical of the County Heath Department not having the time to answer a question he had about how many people are required by the Health Department to have in a home.
Colon also encouraged the County Commissioners to meet with families that have been affected by Fentanyl and said many of these families with be gathering together this year in 2023. He hopes such meetings will “enlighten” County residents on the Fentanyl Crisis.
Colon closed his remarks saying he “appreciated” the Commissioners hearing him out during his time speaking at public input. He also offered to get the County Commissioners Federal Data on the Fentanyl Crisis, contact with various State and Federal Government and
Colon said “I’m just an advocate in trying to help every life have a chance to live without this thing that’s killing people.”
Colon did say there might be a few people who want to talk about the seriousness of the Fentanyl Crisis here in Indian River County.
Colon said having the Sober Home Registry (not regulation) will help law enforcement to know where the Sober Homes are in Indian River County and to ensure law enforcement knows the Sober Homes are not drug houses. He also said if there’s a medical emergency at a Sober Home, “medical resources will know exactly where to go.” He said the registry will help keep track of whether or not the Sober Home is operating with any sort of a standard.
Colon told Indian River News “I acknowledge and thank the Commissioners for their time to listen to me. I hope the Commissioners do their due diligence to help protect residents and create a Sober Home Registry.”
County Commission Chairman Joe Earman (R-Vero Beach) said the Board of County Commissioners does not normally take any action with public input to the County Commission. He said to Colon “I would tell you this is an important issue.” Earman pointed to Commissioners Flescher and Loar, acknowledging both as former law enforcement with Flescher having previously worked as a Sheriff’s Deputy and Loar having worked as a highway patrolman. Loar is also a former Indian River County Sheriff. Earman said he himself was a former Captain with Indian River County Fire and Rescue. He said the three of them had seen “the worst of the worst” and said “we have seen this time and time again, if it wasn’t Fentanyl, it was something else.”
He encouraged Colon to continue working with Commissioner Moss on the issue of a Sober Home Registry to eventually have Moss bring an agenda item before the County Commission.
Indian River County Sheriff Eric Flowers previously told Indian River News he is in favor of the creation of a Sober Home registry.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody has also been outspoken regarding the Fentanyl Crisis, even making a post on Twitter in July 2022 about the importance of President Joe Biden discussing the Fentanyl Crisis in a meeting with with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
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