Pubdate: Sat,  6 Dec 2003
Source: Amarillo Globe-News (TX)
Copyright: 2003 Amarillo Globe-News
Author: Greg Cunningham
Bookmark: (Tulia, Texas)


TULIA - For years, folks from Tulia have been saying to anyone who would 
listen that their town takes care of its own and is not the brutal, 
repressive place that has been portrayed in the media. They said the people 
in Tulia believe in second chances and treating people like friends, but 
the message could never compete with the image portrayed by the national media.

Thursday night, Tulians had a chance to put their money where their mouths 
were, and they showed up by the hundreds for a silent auction to help keep 
open the city's halfway house, a place that is all about second chances.

"We had over 300 people there last night," said Swisher County Judge Harold 
Keeter. "I think that number says something about this community. The state 
cut funding for treatment, so people in the community and churches are 
stepping back up to the table to show their support."

The object of that support is the Driskill House, which has been providing 
drug and alcohol treatment for more than 25 years. Things have been rough 
for the Driskill House during the past few years as the state cut out 
funding for treatment.

Maggie Compton, office manager at the Driskill House, said the home was 
down to two months of operating budget, but that changed when the silent 
auction raised about $25,000.

"It was wonderful," Compton said. "It was all much higher than our 

Compton said the Driskill House provides treatment to about 16 men at any 
one time, generally with a 90-day residential treatment program. Residents 
are required to get a job and pay a daily fee for their room and board. 
Counseling and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings are mandatory.

Those services will continue for at least several more months thanks to the 
generosity of local merchants, who donated the items for the auction, and 
local residents, who bid on the items.

A couple of the more high-profile items at the auction were a Harley 
Sportster provided at cost by Tripp's Harley-Davidson in Amarillo and a 
couple of all-terrain vehicles from David Brown Sport Center in Amarillo.

Keeter said even Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, got in on the auction, 
bringing a flag that had flown over the state capitol building that sold 
for $300.

Also attending the event was Randy Credico, who for months has been working 
with officials in Tulia to rehabilitate the town's image and undo some of 
the damage from the controversial 1999 drug sting.

Credico said he will be going back to New York looking for matching funds 
from donors who, like him, want to see Tulia represent something other than 
the image portrayed in the national media.

"Tulia has a reputation for being a place where the drug war went wrong, 
but now it has a chance to change that," Credico said. "They've got a 
chance to become a symbol of a different way. Tulia could show the way to a 
new approach that treats drug and alcohol abuse as a medical problem, 
rather than a law-enforcement problem."
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MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman