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$1,000 grant will fight underage drinking

July 31, 2009|By TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. -- State Farm Insurance and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) have awarded the Morgan County Partnership a $1,000 grant to fight underage drinking.

The Good Decisions Grant awarded Thursday will go toward the Sticker Shock program, which will "target the adults in Morgan County who provide alcohol to minors" and alert them to laws against furnishing alcohol to minors, said Debbie Flowers, the partnership's prevention specialist.

Morgan County students have an opportunity to win savings bonds funded with the grant by designing posters to advertise the program or a logo to be used on stickers designed for the program, Flowers said.

Grant money also will be used for supplies and to support the program, Flowers said.

Once the informational stickers are prepared, high school students, accompanied by adults, will visit retail stores that sell alcoholic beverages and affix the stickers to product package handles, Flowers said.

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"It won't cover the product name, expiration date or bar code," she said.

Sticker Shock will be the first project of Anna's Hope, a new group that addresses "all risky behavior," Flowers said.

Anna's Hope is made up of students and is guided by adults from the Morgan County Sheriff's Department, the West Virginia Alcohol Beverage Commission and Communities Mobilizing for Change on Alcohol, the program with which Flowers works through the partnership.

"You don't need alcohol in order to have fun," said Josh Kelly, 17, captain of Berkeley Springs High School's football team and a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Anna's Hope.

Berkeley Springs student Michael Wolfe, 16, said he wants to be part of the Sticker Shock program to "help kids stay away from alcohol."

Flowers said Morgan County is the first in the Eastern Panhandle to introduce the program.

Luke Christie, a State Farm Insurance agent in Berkeley Springs and a member of the partnership, hosted the grant award ceremony in his office.

Morgan County Sheriff Vince Shambaugh and Del. Daryl E. Cowles, R-Morgan/Hampshire, who attended the ceremony with his daughter, Korinne, 16, expressed support for the program.

"Education is key and prevention is critical," Cowles said.

"It's a great coalition with law enforcement and stores," said Dan Miller of the Martinsburg, W.Va., office of the state Alcohol Beverage Commission. "Anything to fight underage drinking is a great thing to do."

The objective of the Morgan County Partnership, which was formed in 2006, is to engage the whole community in learning what contributes to drug abuse. The partnership includes representatives from community organizations, schools, the county commission, law enforcement, the health-care sector, and parks and recreation programs.

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