The hospitalization of six South Portland teenagers and subsequent arrest of one of them on charges that he provided the rest of them with Klonopin should serve as a wake-up call to parents.

Teenagers are experimenting with more than just alcohol. They’re taking prescription drugs in dangerous quantities and sometimes with disastrous results, as in the case of these South Portland teenagers.

The teenagers were hospitalized in January. Police believe the teenagers, who were all between 14 and 17 years old, were at a home in South Portland when they ingested the drugs.

On that evening, policed received two calls almost simultaneously from parents. One parent reported her son as glassy-eyed and incoherent, and another parent said she could not wake her son.

Last week, one of the teenagers was charged with providing the other teenagers with what police believe was Klonopin – a drug used to treat seizures and panic disorders. That teenager could be placed in the Long Creek Youth Development Center until he is 21.

Hopefully, this unfortunate event will serve to remind other teenagers of how dangerous prescription drugs can be when taken without the prescription of a doctor and will serve as a reminder to parents that teenagers are experimenting with the drugs in the medicine cabinet as well as the ones in the liquor cabinet.

Prescription drugs are more prevalent than ever. It’s impossible to turn on the television without seeing multiple commercials for drugs that treat all sorts of disorders (many of them disorders people either didn’t know they had or would be too embarrassed to talk about if they did).

Many of those prescriptions drugs are finding their way into medicine cabinets. That’s why parents need to talk to kids about this problem and make sure they keep any prescription drugs in a secure place.

Time to revalue

It’s going to be a tough month for taxpayers of South Portland. At the end of this month, they’ll be receiving a notice from the city telling them that their property has a new assessed value. That new assessed value will mean a redistribution of the property tax burden.

It appears residential property values have been outpacing commercial property values. Consequently, a larger proportion of the tax burden will be falling upon residential taxpayers.

It’s important to remember, however, that the market drives the values, not the city of South Portland. The city has to do this property valuation to keep property values in line with the market to ensure taxpayers are paying an equitable portion of the burden.

Assessed property values are at 63 percent of market values now, according to City Assessor Elizabeth Sawyer. State law requires assessed property values to be at 70 percent of market values.

Unfortunately, that means it’s time to do it. Putting it off will make it only more painful in the future.

That, of course, will be little consolation to taxpayers who find themselves holding a larger tax bill.

Brendan Moran, editor

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