- Wayne Baker Staff Writer
The more than 3,000 messages on her Facebook account has let Sarah Houston know that her grandfather’s effort to stop drugs in his Parkamo Avenue neighborhood has caught the eyes of not only Hamilton residents, but people across the country.
Dennis Matheny, 69, has not stopped setting up shop on his Hamilton street — which he said has become known in the city as “Heroin Alley” — with a large sign reading “No Drugs Today.”
The response to Matheny’s efforts have been so positive that two major events are now scheduled as a result.
A rally will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday on Parkamo Avenue to show solidarity against drug activity not just in the neighborhood but around Butler County.
“It is for anybody who supports this issue and wants to come out and talk about it,” Houston, 27, told the Journal-News. “We have had local pizza shops offer food and sign companies talk about helping out with ‘No Drugs Today’ signs.”
She added that her grandfather, who is also a pastor, will lead a meeting with the Hamilton Police Department at 6 p.m. Aug. 8 at the Pater Avenue Church, 1321 Pater Ave.
“(Hamilton Police) Chief (Craig) Bucheit will be there and hopefully we can get Sheriff Jones there too and get a good turnout from the neighborhood,” Houston said. “Anyone else from the city that can help us, it would be greatly appreciated if they could attend.”
Matheny said he hopes this is the beginning of something that will have a positive outcome.
“This is about cleaning up the neighborhood and getting rid of the drugs,” he said. “I’m glad to see all of the positive responses from people who live here that are as sick of it as I am.”
Neighbor Jerry Ninke, 67, has joined Matheny’s crusade and he said he will attend the rally and the meeting. He put up his own “No Drugs Today” sign on Tuesday.
“It is time for us around here to step up and make a stand,” he said.
Hamilton Police Chief Craig Bucheit commended residents for taking a stand against drug activity and showing a willingness to work with police to address the problem.
“We are going to clean this street up,” Bucheit said. “I think what the pastor is doing is great. One thing that Denny and these folks have going is that they care about his neighborhood and they are willing to roll up their sleeves and do something about it. I think we have a good plan moving forward.”