Elected leaders came together Saturday to encourage community involvement in fighting the opioid epidemic. Arlington’s mayor and Snohomish County Council members picked up needles using kits provided by the Snohomish County Health District.

“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. The group estimates close to 200 needles were collected in just a few hours.

It's not how they want to spend a Saturday, but it's how they feel they have to with the opioid problems plaguing their area.

"We care about this area and the people in it, so we wanted to use the new kits that the health district has come out with for cleaning up needles in our community,” Tolbert explained.

They cleaned trails, near homeless encampments and in empty fields. It was a bi-partisan effort that included Snohomish County Councilmember Nate Nehring.

"It reaches everybody whether it's folks who are addicted or families of folks who are addicted or whether it's your average community member who is seeing needles in their park or in their park,” he explained. “It really reaches everyone in some way."

Local police help distribute and dispose of the needle pick-up kits. It's not part of the job they'd ever thought they'd be doing, but Chief Jonathan Ventura thinks they are seeing a difference.

“What we took in today is less than what we would have taken in a year ago, so I know it's a slow process," said Ventura. "So I'm optimistic that the tide is changing."

Resource links:

Snohomish Health District Needle Cleanup information