DELPHOS — Dan Durbin, of Delphos, enjoyed growing up in a small town.
Now, he is stepping up as a resident to combat the heroin epidemic that has reached nearly every crevice. He has posted signs up in his yard, declaring his neighborhood a “heroin free” zone. Other signs read “Keep your heroin out of our neighborhood.”
Durbin was a 1997 graduate of Delphos Jefferson. Durbin admitted to not being above the fact of doing a little bit of partying in his time. As in many small towns in the U.S., “partying primarily consisted of drinking a lot of beer or the occasional “pothead” here and there.
Fast-forward to the present day and Durbin has seen the change. While he readily admits the “partying” he did as a youngster was wrong, he has seen things escalate at an alarming rate. What was once considered a big-city problem, he has seen the heroin problem creep into his small town. That problem reached fever pitch Friday.
“We were setting up for my son and daughter’s graduation party,” Durbin said.
While getting ready for the celebration, Durbin’s family witnessed a heroin deal take place right in the alley close to their home. His son chased off the offenders, but it was the tipping point for Durbin.
“They just did it like it was no big deal, like there was nothing going on,” Durbin said.
Just days before that incident, Durbin witnessed a man running through his yard from a trailer park near his residence. Soon after, two other men came running after the first man. He later learned it was a drug deal gone bad. A used syringe was found in a park near their home. He also said himself and other neighbors witness people walking the sidewalks “looking like skeletons or zombies.”
“There was one girl that walked right up in the yard,” Durbin said. “She was completely out of it.”
Durbin said he is now taking a stance because of the safety of his younger children. Along with the two graduates, four more children, ages 16, 10, 7 years and another baby 11 months old, all still live at home.
“I am afraid of what they could find or walk into,” Durbin said. “I want my children to enjoy being children. When I was 10, my mom and dad didn’t have to worry about what I was doing or what I might find. Now I have to go and check things out before my kids can even play in the yard. I am afraid they could come across a used syringe or something like that.”
Durbin said it boggles his mind that people would choose to still use heroin after so much information is now available about the harm it can cause. He said it is no secret in his neighborhood about the problem. While he has had a few scornful looks from people when they see the signs, he said most stop and thank him or honk their horns and give a thumbs up. He is hoping others will join the cause.
“The police can’t do it by themselves,” Durbin said. “My opinion is public outcry could go a long way.”
Reach Lance Mihm at 567-242-0409 or at Twitter @LanceMihm.