November 30, 2011 Edition

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ATOD Coalition receives
grant, continues programs

Gretchen Hunt

The Lawrence County ATOD (Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs) Coalition recently completed a grant cycle, which brought to an end several years of having paid staff members to oversee parts of the coalition's efforts.

Despite the loss of those positions, though, the coalition is continuing with its efforts to provide prevention programming throughout the county.

A recent boost to those efforts was the announcement of a $20,000 Lead and Seed Grant to be spent in the first half of 2012 on youth coalition activities and training.

Sheriff Jody Dotson, and former Coalition staff members Alison Oglesby Johnson and Amber Adams, along with Lawrence County Grant Writer Emily Hathcock, went to Little Rock on Nov. 9 to interview for the grant. Dotson received word Monday that the grant had been funded.

"Activities under this grant will be youth led and adult guided," Adams said. Both she and Johnson have continued to be active in the coalition as volunteers.

Other funding has also come in the form of a $1,000 local community grant from Walmart in Walnut Ridge and from proceeds from the Flamingo Flush fund-raiser, which has already netted $506.

Coalition stays busy

Members of the coalition and the Youth Task Force have participated in several recent events and have made plans for upcoming activities, as well.

The coalition, in conjunction with the Lawrence County Sheriff's Department, did presentations at several schools in the county during Red Ribbon Week.

Participating schools included Hoxie, Walnut Ridge, Black Rock, Lawrence County Cooperative School, Imboden Area Charter School and Walnut Ridge Head Start.

The coalition also provided red ribbons for all schools in the county through a grant from Walmart.

Dotson, Johnson and Adams also represented the coalition at Wellness Day at Pocahontas Junior High School recently. Reserve Deputy Buddy Williams and Reserve Deputy Olivia Pickney did DWI goggle simulation, as well. Students had the opportunity to drive a utility vehicle while wearing the goggles and do field sobriety simulations.

The DEA Prescription Drug Take Back was a success, according to Johnson. ATOD assisted the LCSD with this event.

"Youth Task Force members manned drop points with deputies at the courthouse, Iron Mountain Festival and the substation at Imboden collecting 124 pounds of unused medication," Johnson said.

The coalition also had booths and handed out information at the Iron Mountain Festival and Black Rock Foothills Celebration.

The Youth Task Force is planning activities for the winter including roll call briefings (visiting local police and fire departments at shift change to inform them of youth prevention activities in the county), shoulder tap surveys and compliance checks.

The coalition is also planning a community training in the near future.

Junior Briner, chair of the coalition, said new members of the coalition are always welcome and can join at any time.

"We are doing this with volunteers, and we appreciate everyone who gives of their time," he said. "It's really beneficial to our county and communities."

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