Mayor To Hoteliers: ‘Be Diligent’

Warsaw Mayor Joe Thallemer has asked local hoteliers to “be diligent” in preventing methamphetamine labs in local hotels and motels.

On Nov. 8, a methamphetamine lab was located in the Economy Inn in Warsaw. It was the third lab found at the motel this year. It was also when Thallemer decided to take action.

On that same November day, Thallemer went to the Economy Inn where police and fire officials were on scene. He then returned to his office and drafted a letter to all local hotels and motels noting, “Cooking methamphetamine is an extremely dangerous homemade method of producing the drug. It can be accomplished anywhere, but is often done inside. Your hospitality establishment could be an unwilling host, creating the danger of an explosion which could result in the liability of injury, burns and toxic fumes.”

Kosciusko County is now on track to be No. 5 in Indiana for the most number of methamphetamine labs this year. Unfortunately, hotels and motels are often used for meth manufacturing.

Indiana State Trooper Andy Cochran, who heads the ISP Meth Suppression Unit for District 24 – which includes Kosciusko County –  believes hotels/motels and even vehicles are used as locations to produce the illegal and highly addictive drug because the majority of those doing the manufacturing do not have residences. He stops short of calling them homeless, but acknowledges they are the people who often lose everything because of the addictive qualities of the drug. “They’ll sleep on someone’s couch for a while but when people say, ‘You’re not doing (drugs) here,’ they save up a few dollars and go to a motel,” explained Cochran.

In his letter to hoteliers, Thallemer said meth production “is a community issue that everyone must address.” In fact, earlier this year Thallemer asked local pharmacies to voluntarily stop selling the one necessary ingredient in methamphetamine: pseudoephedrine or Sudafed. Only Zale Drugs and The Pill Box have voluntarily suspended those sales, said State Rep. Rebecca Kubacki who promises to again fight in 2013 to make pseudoephedrine a prescription drug.

Last year, legislators looked at making pseudoephedrine available as a prescription only, but instead chose to enact a stronger tracking system. That was supposed to reduce the number of people buying the drug, but Kubacki said the tracking system just does not work and the number of methamphetamine labs found in Kosciusko County alone this year is proof of that.

As of Sept. 30, Kosciusko County had reported 33 meth labs and there have been several more located since then.

Mike Stetzel of the Wyndham Hotel in Warsaw said they already take precautions to prevent methamphetamine production in the hotel by refusing anyone who has only cash and no valid credit card and those who try to pay with a pre-paid credit card that does not have a person’s name printed on it.

Stetzel said he knows others in the hospitality business who are also taking the same kinds of precautions and are not afraid to turn away anyone they believe may be considered suspicious. The cost of renting a room for a night or two is simply not worth of the risk of having to pay thousands of dollars to clean a room that has had a meth lab.

In closing his letter, Thallemer added, “The battle to end this scourge must be fought at all levels. The cost of these crimes includes big dollars spent for toxic cleanup, medical care, investigation, prosecution, incarceration, rehabilitation, family social services, etc. The real cost of these crimes, however, is the human toll on the victim, their families and our community.”

Anyone within the city limits of Warsaw who suspects illegal drug activity should call 574-372-9515. Illegal drug activity in the county should be reported to 574-267-5667.

  • Just me

    So, if someone tries to use a pre-paid credit card to rent a room, they are suspected of being a suspicious person according to Mike Stetzel of the Wyndham Hotel?! He may want to re-evaluate his assumptions because just because someone has a pre-paid credit card doesn’t make them a suspicious person at all, in my opinion, in this economy it makes them a smart person by not having credit cards and ruining their credit because of spending money they don’t have.
    I do agree they have to figure something out to save them money and try to do away with the meth labs in their establishments. It’s sad the few people who do operate the meth labs in so many places ruin things for the innocent people.

  • lark1006

    marking the wrong person as a druggie may get you a lawsuit. Any other time No. 5 would be a good thing.

  • anastasia

    Well ‘Just Me’ I would like to welcome you to this thing called life! Fact is life isn’t fair. You can sit there complaining about it or adapt to it. Be an adult and get over it. If you don’t like what Mike said then don’t stay at the Wyndham.

    One more thing, I’m not sure where you bank at but last I knew a lot of banks are now allowing your debit card to be used as a credit card. I understand not wanting to have a bunch of credit cards but fact is, if your bank card isn’t able to be used as a credit card then you should have at least one card. There are LOTS of things you can’t do without providing a credit card. Apparently staying at the Wyndham is also one of those things. If you walked in with a roll of cash I would definitely think that’s shady. Don’t get on Mike cause he spoke out about his policy.

    Just sayin…

  • Just me

    Anastasia, I know lots of things require proof of credit cards but at least the other things don’t assume if you don’t have one, that you’re a suspicious person. I know my pre-paid credit cards I have are with my name on them and not one I can just go buy at the stores.
    As far as telling me to be an adult and get over it, I AM an adult, and this whole subject is behind me now as I will not do business with any of the establishments where they would consider my form of payment as being suspicious. I can speak out about my opinion about his assumptions of what he has spoken out about. If he didn’t want opinions given about HIS opinion, he should have kept his opinion to himself.
    Just saying….. also :)

  • sweetangelchild

    Anastasia, well for 1 I don’t think anyone was referring to bank debit cards, more like green dot or vanilla visa etc. Those are cards you can buy almost anywhere & reload as needed. In this economy many, many people have gone from perfect credit to awful credit & can no longer get any credit cards. Domestic violence happens in every socio-economic tier. Judges, lawyers, doctors, general laborers working in factories. Police officers have the highest rate of alcoholism & woman beating than any
    profession. Take the battered wife as an example, she has waited
    and snuck a dollar here, 5$ there, hid it for that moment she could
    make her escape. When she gets to that motel/hotel with her kids,
    she gets turned away because she only has cash. Uh I think life
    has been unfair for her plenty already! She can’t use a card
    anyway because she can be tracked down if she does. My brother
    sold his hot tub on craigs list, accepted a cashiers check for
    It, when he went to cash it he was almost arrested for fraud & now can’t have an account with ANY federal financial institute, i. e. A bank, for 5 years. The point I am making is not everyone can get a credit card and some people don’t want 1. Since this is a free country & cash isn’t illegal to have (yet?) we should be able to use that cash for anything we want… As long as it’s not meth (or anything else illegal) and it’s not up to you to assume everyone should live a certain way. So let me welcome you to this place called America, where we have different situations & lives & circumstance, where we have choices including choosing not to
    have credit cards & not to patronize anywhere that would require 1. Those of us that know what being an adult in America is can & do accept that
    Just saying..that

  • anastasiabeaverhausen

    I understand what you all are saying. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about not having credit cards! My point about debit/credit cards is that if you have one, it means you have a bank account. If you have a bank account then when your card is swiped it will either be declined for insufficient funds or your bank will charge you out the wazoo if the money is not there!
    Sweetangelchild I understand the battered wife scenario. Let us not deny though that the Wyndham is one of the more expensive hotels in the area. If I worked there and some lady came in and said she can only use cash so she can’t be traced, I’d tell her to go to one of the decent cheaper hotels. Not because I don’t want to her business but because her cash would last longer. (No offense to Wyndham)
    Everyone makes assumptions and stereotypes about people. You’d be lying to say you didn’t. Mike and his staff have 5 min with a customer. It would be extremely hard not to stereotype people. That stereotype may be completely wrong but at the time that’s all they have to go on.
    You’re right, this is America where we have the freedom to choose. If you choose to not frequent businesses because of that policy alone, have at it. My original point was and still is the last sentence: Don’t get on Mike because he spoke out about his policy.

  • anastasiabeaverhausen

    And by the way, if you reread his comment: “refusing anyone who has only cash and no valid credit card and those who try to pay with a pre-paid credit card that does not have a person’s name printed on it.”
    He refuses anyone who has only cash AND no valid credit card
    And those who try to pay with a pre-paid credit card that DOES NOT have a person’s name printed on it.

    So, if you have cash and have a valid credit card you will be accepted. If you have a pre-paid card with your name printed on it you will also be accepted.

  • Joe

    Anastasia, the U.S. Treasury has repeatedly enforced the concept of ‘legal tender’. That being the notion that if you present cash in the right amount, the person on the other side of the counter MUST accept cash in payment. They do this to force the recognition that Federal Reserve Notes are accepted for all debts, public, and private, as it says on the face of the bill. In fact, a merchant REFUSING to accept cash tendered in payment means legally, the bill HAS BEEN PAID and no further payment is due. So any hotelier might possibly refuse to host anyone who does not have a proper photo ID, a driver’s license, or some other valid form of ID, but to refuse to host someone who insists on paying only in cash and not presenting a credit card, might be risking more than you think.