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Board Explores Ways To Combat Drugs

By Staff | Nov 5, 2014

Wetzel County Schools Employees of the Month for August and September are pictured with Superintendent Dennis Albright, left. From the left from Albright: Linda Haught, Short Line School; April Ring, Short Line School; and Adrianne Burkhart, Valley High School. Not pictured is Jamie Doty, also an employee of the month.

At Monday night’s meeting of the Wetzel County Board of Education, Board President Mike Blair announced that he would like the board to begin looking into helping combat the county’s war on drugs.

“There are a lot of things we can do in our schools to promote drug awareness,” he noted. “If we save one child . . . I don’t care what grade level, we did well.

“Every community in our county is dealing with this problem,” Blair noted. “If we need to financially support you, the schools, and bring someone to our school house . . . I’m asking you as administrators, if there is something we need to be doing, please convey that. Now is the time. I think you will have the support of this board.

“Drugs are the problem that is really weighing heavy with me on our youth today,” Blair stated, “and I’m at the point that I’m going to battle that any way we can. I think we have to start in the school house.”

“Are you prepared to finance resource officers?” questioned Mark Lemasters, a science and technology teacher at Magnolia High School.

“We have been looking at them,” Blair noted, adding that Superintendent Dennis Albright had been looking into the issue. “Whether we contract a service, or hire our own, it’s been kicked around on a multitude of occasions. I understand where you are coming from . . . is that officer the actual turn that we want? When students leave school to go down the street, what are the dealing with? We have to get these young minds prepared for what’s out there. It’ll be a cost factor, but I don’t think there’s anyone here that’s not willing to support this.”

New Martinsville School Principal Shawn Coen invited everyone to attend the drug awareness program that will be held at the school on Nov. 20. “It’s an excellent program, and I encourage you to spread the word to any adult in the community. We have announced this in our school messengers every time we have this, but we never have more than 10 parents that attend.”

“We are dealing with a different beast than what we had to deal with,” she noted, referencing alcohol abuse was the worst that the now-adults had to deal with when they were younger. “I invite you all to attend the drug awareness program, and bring a friend . . . Until we educate our community, we will never get a handle on this.”

“I’m looking at any type of input,” Blair reiterated. “I think the board is interested in hearing any type of input.”

“You are better prepared,” he spoke of the teachers and school administrators. “You see kids every day. I read about it. I read about the youth that are dying. I watch it on the news, and it’s a terrible thing . . . It’s addiction, and it’s taking our youth from us. Good ol’ Wetzel County is a good place to live, and Mrs. Wells (Tammy Wells, director of secondary and vocational education, student assessment and strategic planning) and everyone out in the county . . . I’d like to see suggestions come back to us. Mr. Albright, I ask you to support that.”

Fawn Price, MHS’s LSIC President, stated that she is around a lot of youth and notices that “there are a lot of kids that just don’t have parents, that are available.”

“They may be living, or maybe the kids are being raised by grandparents,” she noted, adding, “The grandparents might be ill . . . There are all kinds of situations out there, and kids don’t have the same opportunities. These are all learned behaviors that they see all of their lives.”

Blair suggested that drug awareness become a “community, county-wide publicity campaign,” to “bring the highlights out.”

“I don’t care if it is a guest speaker, high impact stuff . . . there’s a way you can touch people, and there are multiple ways to do that.”

As to resource officers in schools, Lemasters stated that perhaps the officers could also be located outside of the building, after school, as well.

And as to hiring the officers, Albright stated that there is a shortage of officers in the area. He noted that Paden City Police Department is currently running short on officers, and New Martinsville Police Department is short four officers. Albright noted that the board is anticipating two officers coming from the Wetzel County Sheriff’s Department.

Board Member Carolyn Gatian suggested taking drug awareness outside of the schools. “Let’s do shock treatment,” she noted, suggesting a flash mob.

Blair noted that the problem would not be solved that night but, “I’d like to get some ideas and encouragement.”

Also at Monday night’s board meeting, Superintendent Albright announced the following Employees of the Month for the months of August and September: Linda Haught, Short Line School; Adrianne Burkhart, Valley High School; April Ring, Short Line School; and Jamie Doty, Maintenance.

Furthermore, Albright mentioned that starting this week, radio spots would be running on the radio for both Hundred High School and Short Line School. He noted that these were the first of the radio spots for all county schools.

Also, Albright requested that the board approve $46,000 for supplemental materials for the county’s Read 180 program’s companion program, System 44. This will ensure that proper reading instruction is given to those who need the most help with reading.