• 19°

Pill drop box opens in LEC

A new service for Mower County residents looking to dispose of old, unused prescription pills officially opened Tuesday.

A secure pill drop box, located in the lobby of the Law Enforcement Center in downtown Austin, will allow people to safely and easily dispose of the unwanted drugs. When the box fills up, a contracted company will come and pickup the pills to take them to an out-of-state incinerator.

The program, which will cost roughly $5,000 annually, is an initiative of the Austin Area Drug Taskforce.

“This is a very exciting time,” said Bonnie Rietz, a former Austin mayor and current taskforce member. “We’ve been looking for this service for three years.”

Rietz has said on several occasions that disposal has always been the hardest part of a “move, watch and dispose” initiative regarding extra prescription pills.

That difficulty largely stemmed from a lack of places that could take the drugs.

Det. David McKichan, who is assigned to local drug investigations, said previously that the box and removal service will fill a big need because before his department had virtually no way to take old prescription pills off people’s hands.

Now, with the box in place, law enforcement officials are asking citizens to bring in any and all old, unused prescriptions, as well as non-prescription medications, like Tylenol. Older medicines that are in glass containers are welcome too — padded envelopes are available right next to the box’s door.

And for people concerned with privacy, Sharpie pens are also on hand for crossing out names on bottles.

The dropped off medications go into a locked closet in the office of Sheriff Terese Amazi. Amazi, who is also a taskforce member, said the box had already filled up about a third of the way before Tuesday’s kickoff event. Of the pills dropped off, the most common one she’s seen has been OxyContin, which the sheriff said is a good sign because it is a targeted drug of abuse in the area.

“That’s really a testament that people want to do the right thing,” she said of the one-third full box.

To make the box easy to find, signage will be posted outside of the LEC lobby, as well as on the wall near the box’s door. Rietz also said a public awareness campaign will be launched at this summer’s Mower County Fair.