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Official: Alcohol abuse a problem at track

February 19, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Two people who run a chaplaincy program at Charles Town Races & Slots said last week they continue to stay busy helping track employees with addiction problems.

Although chaplain Rick Mann said his program has helped track employees deal with alcohol, gambling and substance abuse in past years, he told the Jefferson County Commission last Thursday that the primary problem is alcohol abuse.

Mann said he is working with about 25 people with addiction problems at the track.

Working in the stable area at the track presents challenges to people who work there, employees and chaplaincy officials have said.

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Workers go to work sometimes as early as 5 a.m. and leave by noon.

If workers are not careful how they spend the rest of the day, they can end up battling drinking and drug abuse problems, track officials have said.

Mann and Gerald Dorsey, who helps run the program, said it is a problem that has long been associated with the track. But when Penn National Gaming Inc., took over the track, the organization got tough on substance abuse there, Mann and Dorsey said.

Track officials have told employees with addiction problems that they need to either get help from Mann or leave the oval, Mann said.

Because the track got serious about the problem, a lot of people are getting help, Mann and Dorsey said.

"Now, all of the sudden, we're getting an avalanche," Dorsey said.

The program operates on a $65,000 budget, a third of which comes from the track, Mann said. Another third comes from the horsemen and the rest comes from the community, Mann said.

Last year, the chaplaincy requested $10,000 from the commissioners and received $5,000. This year, the group is asking for $12,000 from the commission.

Mann said he is asking for more money so he can perhaps hire someone on a part-time basis to help him counsel workers and have some additional money to help addicted clients with temporary housing and medical help.

Several groups made funding requests to the commissioners, who must have their budget completed and submitted to the state by March 28.

Last year's budget was about $11 million.

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