As published in the Record Journal, Wednesday January 23, 2013
By Jesse Buchanan
WALLINGFORD - Dozens of people attended Tuesday’s council meeting in support of a new group in town that’s fighting drug use following the death of several town residents.
Jennifer Short urged councilors and town officials to support the work of the newly formed Coalition for a Better Wallingford. Her daughter, 20-year-old Taylor Short, died in New Haven in November of an apparent drug overdose.
Jennifer Short said town leaders needed to acknowledge the problem and take action against it.
In December, a 26-year old Wallingford woman and her 13-month old child were found dead with drugs and drug paraphernalia nearby. Authorities determined the child was accidentally smothered.
“We need to press forward,”she said. A friend of Taylor Short and a Wallingford teacher also spoke Tuesday, urging the council to take action.
Council Chairman Robert Parisi and Councilor Craig Fishbein both questioned what type of action they were being asked to take.
Parisi said he wasn’t ignoring the problem but wanted to see proposals for how to tackle drug addiction. Councilors aren’t turning a blind eye to youths, he said, but aren’t experts in the field.
“I’m getting the feeling that I’m an ogre. I love the children,” Parisi said, defending himself. “We’re happy to help, but we need a little guidance.”
Youth and Social Services Director Craig Turner said recommendations would be forthcoming from the coalition.
“The first step is really just to bring awareness of the group’s purpose,” Turner said.
After the council meeting, Jennifer Short said she felt the council was supportive of her goals.
Taylor Short was a 2011 Sheehan High School graduate.
In the weeks following Taylor Short’s death, her mother has researched substance abuse among town youths and recently addressed the Town Council, youth and family service officials, educators and drug abuse experts in the hope of drawing attention to what she sees as a growing problem. She’s also researching drug prevention programs in Southington, Berlin, Madison and Guilford.
The coalition’s next meeting is Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at 5 Brookside Drive.