Community works together to fight drug problem

October 19, 2009|By TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. -- Morgan County officials recognize the county has a drug problem and that is a step in the right direction.

Shamus Cleveland, the community development specialist for the West Virginia Prevention Resource Center for Morgan, Jefferson and Berkeley counties, recently shared this encouraging news with the Morgan County Partnership.

The 2008 community readiness assessment showed a score of 4.9 out of 9, Cleveland said. The assessment score is rounded down, so the score given is 4, he said. That is still a lot better than the first assessment in 2006, which was 2 out of 9.

According to the assessment key, Cleveland said, in 2006, the assessment showed "denial. That there could be a problem, but probably not and nothing could be done locally," he said.


The 2008 assessment key showed Morgan County to be in "preplanning, which is a clear recognition there is a local problem and something should be done, but risk factors tend to be stereotyped like blaming a certain type of kid that is causing the problem," he said.

According to the survey, the community "knows who the leaders are, but there needs to be better coordination with the entire community," he said.

"We have a long way to go in Morgan County because coming from a 2 to a 4 is still not a 9," Cleveland said.

The next assessment is in the spring of 2010, he said.

Cleveland said the programs implemented in Morgan County have made people more aware of drug issues through education and the community working together.

"Just to recognize it is a huge step forward for us," said Susan Caperton, project director for Morgan County Partnership.

Morgan County was one of the 17 counties chosen in the state to receive funding for drug prevention. The Morgan County Partnership was formed in 2006 and is primarily funded by the Strategic Prevention Framework State Implementation Grant (SPF SIG), she said.

"We attack it from all angles. In schools it's education like the Too Good for Drugs program. In the community, it's Working with Youth training that helps adults that work with youth, like coaches and PASS volunteers, to teach kids coping skills they can use in everyday life," Caperton said.

Through education, awareness and working together, Morgan County has shown how critical it is that the community continues to be involved, "but we need more people to join in to continue to focus on prevention, early intervention, treatment and recovery," she said.

Megan Hauser, community educator for the Partnership, has Clean Out Your Medicine Cabinet Day scheduled for Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. At the event, people can take unused, expired prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications to the Morgan County Health Department for disposal.

The health department also is a Morgan County Partnership member.

"We would not have been able to collect the controlled substances without the help of the Morgan County Sheriff's department because they are the only ones that could accept them. (Sheriff) Vince Shambaugh, who is a member of our partnership, stepped up to help and make sure an officer is there to collect the drugs that will be disposed," Hauser said.

As part of the drug-disposal program, the sheriff's department is sponsoring a basketball tournament with the Partnership, Berkeley Springs High School basketball coaches and Morgan County Parks and Recreation on Saturday at the Biser Street Park from noon to 5 p.m.

Shambaugh said his department purchased T-shirts for the event with forfeiture money from drug dealers.

Another partner is the Potomac Water Watch, "the group that makes us aware of environmental harm prescription drugs are causing our water system," Hauser said.

"They want the drugs out of the water system and we want the drugs out of the hands of our youth," she said.

"Prescription drug abuse is a big issue, and when we work together as a community, we bring about the best results," she said.

The Prevention Resource Center is the working body of the West Virginia Partnership that addresses substance- abuse prevention, early intervention, treatment and recovery.

The partnership was created in 2004, and the 40 members were appointed by Gov. Joe Manchin III.

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