Snohomish County elected leaders team up for needle cleanup in Smokey Point

SMOKEY POINT – During a drug needle cleanup Saturday in a homeless camp, volunteers came across an unusual site.

Mixed in with the dirty syringes, cut-up Coca Cola cans, Mountain Dew bottles, garbage and tell-tale signs of drug use, Arlington Police Chief Jonathan Ventura spotted the top from an over-the-counter Narcan nasal spray.

“Somebody overdosed right here, and they’re ‘Narcan-ing’ themselves,” Ventura said. “I’ve seen this in other places, but I haven’t run into it in a camp before. They’re carrying enough Narcan now to help out each other.”

In the past two years training to administer Narcan, or Naloxone, has moved from beyond first responders to giving the general public the know-how to rapidly reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

The needle cleanup was a bipartisan political event that drew candidates and party supporters to a camp in a forested area in the 16600 block east of Smokey Point Boulevard.

Ventura, who led the groups into the camp, gave a quick overview to the 18 participants about how to safely use needle cleanup kits provided by the Snohomish Health District. Thick gloves, tongs, hand sanitizer and Sharps containers were included.

Ventura said he is seeing fewer needles, mentioning that a needle-exchange program may have played a role in that. Addicts can trade old, reused and sometimes shared needles for new ones.

“It’s a sad thing and a sign of the times that this is how you spend a beautiful summer Saturday in Arlington,” Mayor Barb Tolbert said.

Several elected officials and candidates reiterated that similar situations could be in any greenbelt bordering urban and suburban areas around Snohomish County.

Petra Bigea, a Lynnwood Republican running in the 21st Legislative District, said as a mushroom hunter with the Puget Sound Micological Society, she knows wooded areas more than most.

“We go in the woods and pretty much pick chanterelles and morels,” Bigea said. “Now I’m picking up needles.”

Bigea said it is important to her as a mother and candidate to get involved. “I’m out here to clean our woods, our environment, and to keep them and our neighborhoods safe for our children and ourselves.”

Louis Harris stepped up for the work party representing the Snohomish County Young Democrats. He said being disconnected from what is happening on the ground with issues like the opioid epidemic perpetuates the problem.

“My organization is the type of people who like to go head first into the problem and see if we can help or create a solution,” Harris said, adding he supports needle exchange as a strategy to reduce the impact of the opioid crisis on communities.

Arlington police rounded up several containers holding about 200 needles by the end of the sweep.

The work party was organized by County Councilmembers Nate Nehring, a Republican serving the north county, and Stephanie Wright, a Democrat serving a south portion of the county.

“This event serves to show that the opioid epidemic is not a partisan issue,” Nehring said. “As partners, we can make a positive difference in our communities and the lives of our neighbors.”

Wright agreed. “Secondary health effects of the opioid epidemic, like exposure to unsecured needles, have impacted all of our families and neighborhoods,” she said. “Working together is the only way to address this community health crisis.”

Among signs of drug abuse at a Smokey Point encampment were the top to a Narcan nasal spray and a cut-up soda can.

Among signs of drug abuse at a Smokey Point encampment were the top to a Narcan nasal spray and a cut-up soda can.

District 1 County Councilman Nate Nehring finds a discarded syringe to safely dispose of.

District 1 County Councilman Nate Nehring finds a discarded syringe to safely dispose of.

Douglas Buell/Staff Photo
                                Arlington Police Chief Jonathan Ventura highlights what to look for among the litter at sites in the wooded area.

Douglas Buell/Staff Photo Arlington Police Chief Jonathan Ventura highlights what to look for among the litter at sites in the wooded area.

44th Legislative District Rep. John Lovick (D), former County Executive and Sheriff, sifts through debris during the needle cleanup.

44th Legislative District Rep. John Lovick (D), former County Executive and Sheriff, sifts through debris during the needle cleanup.

44th Legislative District Rep. John Lovick (D), former County Executive and Sheriff, sifts through debris during the needle cleanup.

44th Legislative District Rep. John Lovick (D), former County Executive and Sheriff, sifts through debris during the needle cleanup.

Arlington police rounded up Sharps containers filled with about 200 needles and syringes during a sweep at a homeless camp in the Smokey Point area.

Arlington police rounded up Sharps containers filled with about 200 needles and syringes during a sweep at a homeless camp in the Smokey Point area.

More in News

Council adopts Arlington-Marysville manufacturing industrial center plan

ARLINGTON – The City Council Monday approved the Arlington-Marysville Manufacturing Industrial Center… Continue reading

AHS’ DECA Club students are Santa’s Helpers keeping spirits bright for families in need

ARLINGTON – Thanks to the hard work of Santa’s Helpers, dozens of… Continue reading

Council public hearing Monday for manufacturing industrial center plan

ARLINGTON – The City Council set a public hearing Monday for the… Continue reading

Arlington School Board to consider third try for school bond

ARLINGTON – An Arlington Public Schools construction bond measure that failed in… Continue reading

Arlington to get $1.6M grant for 204th Street roundabout, problem intersection off Hwy 9

ARLINGTON – City officials learned last week that Arlington is set to… Continue reading

Marysville council learns about unhealthy part of the community

MARYSVILLE – The health of the city, or rather the unhealthy part… Continue reading

Investigation slows charges in Arlington teen sex crime case

ARLINGTON – A Snohomish County deputy prosecutor said Monday that a now… Continue reading

Woman stabs 2 officers with scissors in Marysville

MARYSVILLE — A young woman stabbed two Marysville officers with a pair… Continue reading

Arlington goes big, shops small to kick off Hometown Holidays (slide show)

ARLINGTON - Arlington got its first snowfall for the season Saturday. OK,… Continue reading

Marysville City Council news

Marysville City Council news •The council adopted the $352 million biennial budget.… Continue reading

Panel recommends RFA for Marysville, District 12

MARYSVILLE – A Regional Fire Authority is looking more likely. A committee… Continue reading