'Welcome to Tweakerville' sign turns heads in Everett
EVERETT, Wash. - Frustration over an ongoing opioid crisis has a man in Everett using his business's message board to make a provocative public statement.
Periodically through the night, his illuminated message board reads, "Welcome to Tweakerville," a sarcastic stab at the city's rampant drug issues.
The owner said at least 35,000 people pass by the board each day and that his decision to post the message is no knee-jerk decision.
For the past few days this week, Gary Watts said the message has rolled out the moment the auto shop closes.
"From Olympia to Bellingham, Everett is known as 'Tweakerville,'" Watts said.
Watts believes the problem lies mostly with city police, who he said are too lenient toward chronic drug users. He wants voters to think twice as they select a mayor and city council members in next week's election.
"I needed to come up with something that would polarize the city," Watts said.
His wish seems to be coming true. During a KOMO News interview with Watts, at least one city residents who disapproved of Watt's sign walked up and challenged him.
"You may be sending a point as a business owner and as a resident, but you're not helping the city," Nick Eckert said.
Watts said that what isn't helping is the city's response, and that for every detractor, there are least 10 others in the city who have reached their limit.
"I think around here, we have a lot of drug use going on," Catelin Elzea-Johnson, who saw the sign as she was driving by, said. "And the city officials think that being kind, and approaching it that way, has worked out, and it really hasn't."
Though he feels that he has support in the community, Watts said that he has achieved his goal and plans to remove the sign for good when his shop opens Friday morning.
Everett's police chief said he "understands the frustrations" of those impacted by the opioid epidemic and remains focused on "finding solutions that will positively impact this crisis."