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Coalition taking aim at drug abuse

December 11, 2013
By Chad Clem - Staff Writer , The Inter-Mountain

ELKINS - The group that helped develop a new proposed ordinance to ban the dangerous synthetic hallucinogens known as bath salts in Randoph County has other plans for helping rid the area of drug abuse, as well.

The Randolph County America's Promise Coalition met on Tuesday at the county Health Department. Rebecca Vance, the director of the Randolph County Family Resource Network, provided an update on the bath salts ordinance.

The Randolph County Commission approved the ordinance on first reading last week, and Vance said a public hearing on the ordinance is scheduled at 1 p.m. Dec. 19.

"It will go through another reading in January," said Vance. "We are hoping to get it completely passed by Jan. 9."

The ordinance would ban in Randolph County the advertising, possession, use, purchase and/or distribution of substituted cathinones, commonly known as bath salts, as well as synthetic cannabinoids and other synthetic drugs.

Vance also spoke about drug and alcohol prevention, promoting free training for the "Too Good for Drugs" program which will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 19 at the Caperton Center in Clarksburg. The training is open to the public and would certify participants to teach the "Too Good for Drugs" curriculum throughout the Mountain State.

Also during Tuesday's meeting, Sherri Hulver, Randolph County Juvenile Drug Court probation officer, addressed those in attendance regarding the services of the juvenile drug court program.

The program is broken into four phases, which take up to seven months for participants to complete. The target population for the program is youth 10-17 years old.

"It encourages youth to take responsibility for their own actions," said Hulver. "They learn that there are positive and negative consequences for their behavior."

Hulver said since the program was instituted three years ago it has helped many participants with drug addiction. Hulver said that participants show signs of improvement in three main facets: a decrease in substance abuse, an increase in family relations and an increase in self-esteem.

The juvenile drug court program maintains 15-16 clients and over the source of its existence, it has seen an increase in the graduation rate of clients, Hulver said.

John Meadows, Randolph County Adult Drug Court probation officer, discussed the services provided in the adult program.

Meadows described adult drug court - which, much like the juvenile drug court, is a rehabilitation program for people struggling with drug addiction - as "probation on steroids." Participants are subjected to drug screening up to three or four times a week, and are required to check in regularly with drug court officials. Another requirement is 40 hours of community service per week for those participants who are not employed full-time.

Meadows said a major aspect of the program is incentives, which are rewards for participants who take positive steps toward attaining a drug-free, crime-free lifestyle. One of the most powerful incentives is the dismissal of the participants' charges. Another major aspect is sanctions for violations which are brought forth by the Circuit Court Judge, some of which could involve jail time.

Jennifer Johnson spoke on behalf of Youth Health Services, regarding partnering with the coalition during National Drug Facts week, Jan. 27 through Feb. 2. Officials would like to distribute news articles through a media campaign, work with the elementary schools and do a prevention poster contest with elementary students. The coalition approved the partnership during Tuesday's meeting.

Judy McCauley, of the Appalachian Community Health Center, announced that funding has been cut from the state's public inebriate shelters, and the Randolph County shelter will be closed in January. This will result in the burden being left on the regional jails, she said.

McCauley also reported that, despite funding having been cut for outreach for substance abuse counselors, which is preventing them from being present in school as previously planned, they will still be seeing clients and offering therapy.

Elkins Mayor Van Broughton spoke about several items, including sending three new Elkins City Police officers to the State Police Academy and the addition of a second drug dog to the police force. Broughton also said the city is writing grants to help bring back the D.A.R.E program to public schools in Randolph County.

Contact Chad Clem by email at cclem@theintermountain.com.

 
 

 

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