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Pa. governor unveils grant to fight underage drinking

January 23, 1997

By RICHARD F. BELISLE

Staff Writer

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Gov. Tom Ridge chose a Chambersburg Middle School student assembly Thursday morning to announce that an $850,000 grant has been received for use in the state's fight against underage drinking.

News of the governor's visit was kept under wraps at his request, said Edwin Sponseller, superintendent of the 8,100-student Chambersburg Area School District. "We were honored that the governor chose Chambersburg Middle to make the announcement," Sponseller said. "We were also pleased that he spoke personally with five students and that he spoke to the entire student body over the (school's) public address system."

Ridge was in town for about an hour, said Jerry Feaser, his deputy press secretary.

The governor was accompanied by John E. Jones, head of the state's liquor board.

About 350 of Chambersburg Middle School's 1,200 students were at the assembly.

They were told that the Pennsylvania Underage Drinking Coalition, an arm of the liquor control board, was one of 11 recipients nationally to receive an $850,000 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant. The foundation supports health care programs, Feaser said.

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"As we look around this room we see many organizations and young people dedicated to reducing underage drinking," Ridge told the students. "Our collective task takes education and it takes strict enforcement. Since day one I have committed the state of Pennsylvania to aggressively pursue both," he said.

Jones said underage drinking contributes to health, safety and social problems, poor academic performance, accidents, violence, injury and death.

He said the driver's license of any minor who is caught driving even after one drink will be suspended.

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