The Palo Pinto County Sheriff’s Office has taken several steps in combating the problem during his tenure, Mercer said, including the formation of a City-County Narcotics Unit.
He said the CCNU, with cooperation from the Mineral Wells Police Department, focuses entirely on enforcing drug laws.
Additionally, PPSO has added a drug dog to its staff, he said.
Mercer said much of the drug problem originates with individuals living in poor socioeconomic conditions.
Forty-two percent of felony cases filed in Palo Pinto County are drug cases, he said, noting as much as 85 percent of all crimes are related to drugs “in one way or another.”
Weatherford College President Dr. Kevin Eaton
Sharing trends related to higher education in the community, Weatherford College President Dr. Kevin Eaton explained the rapid growth the school has enjoyed at its several campus locations.
Enrollment has doubled in the past 15 years, he said, and the college has new facilities in both Wise and Hood counties.
He explained enrollment has been flat over the past four years, noting an improving economy generally results in less community college students as employees are able to re-enter the workforce.
Despite a marked increase in student population, Eaton said state funding has not increased, though faculty has been able to provide excellent educations and new course offerings over recent years.
A new 108,000-square-foot facility in Wise County offers cosmetology, nursing and several other programs, he said. Donations from city, county and school entities in Hood County made another campus possible in that area.
Focusing on the Mineral Wells campus, located on Hood Road, Eaton said students entering into two-year programs such as occupational or physical therapy assisting can graduate and enter careers making $45,000 or more per year.
Other courses, such as cosmetology and truck driving school, offer further opportunities for local residents hoping to expand their employment horizon.
“We have a lot more work to do and we look forward to the future,” he said.
He ended his presentation with a slide show of Weatherford College locations and expressed a desire to establish a new facility within Mineral Wells at some point in the future.