ELK GARDEN – As the Mineral County Chamber of Commerce visits outlying communities of the county, President John Lecky is learning that these towns and communities share many things in common.

By Ronda Wertman
Tribune Correspondent
ELK GARDEN – As the Mineral County Chamber of Commerce visits outlying communities of the county, President John Lecky is learning that these towns and communities share many things in common.
Most of these areas feel like they are the step children of the county, often overlooked or forgotten.
While that is an important concern which Lecky is working on with the county commissioners, what is even more troubling is the issue of crime and drugs, which are running rampant in these rural areas.
As Lecky met with the Elk Garden Council and residents Sunday to follow up on a meeting with area business in January, he heard firsthand accounts of crime and how residents live in fear. How it’s not safe to let your teenager walk from one house to another in the neighborhood. How you have to keep everything locked and even then a crow bar will gain entry. How deer are being shot for target practice. How people know things and see things that they know are wrong, but will not step forward and sign a statement for fear of retaliation against them or their family.
“Things are out of control,” said Lecky telling the town, “You need to band together and decide what you are going to do.”
As residents and the council noted, it is a multi-faceted problem. Response time to Elk Garden is a 30-45 wait. Law enforcements’ hands are tied if no one will sign a statement. When they do arrest someone, they are back on the street in a day or two and with overcrowding in the jails and high regional jail fees, many offenses are pleaded down so to reduce the costs to the county.
“We’re going to have to make some changes. We’ve got to find a solution. We cannot give up. The more people we get involved in this the stronger we will become,” said mayor Marian Droppleman, noting that the town is looking into providing its own law enforcement.