Teens share drug-free grant plans


News staff writer

September 13, 2006

Hood River Valley High School students had plenty of ideas on Friday about how $275,000 for drug and alcohol prevention programs should be spent.

About 25 teenagers shared their ideas with U.S. Rep. Greg Walden. The federal official visited the school campus to learn more about existing programs and future plans.

Jacob Logan, 17, acted as spokesperson for the group. He believed the federal grant dollars should be used for a continuation of several projects. For example, he told Walden that students had made a video with a split screen that showed the contrast between positive and negative parental role-modeling.

In addition, Logan outlined the effectiveness of the “Every 15 Minutes” program held before the senior prom. To help teens internalize the dangers of drinking and driving, a “Grim Reaper” removed students from class every 15 minutes — the time between deaths in America due to alcohol abuse. The obituary of the “living dead” was then read and his/her parents notified as if the fatality had really happened.

“I think real-life stories, though, are the best way to get our peers to listen,” said Logan, citing one situation where a student publicly recounted losing her father to alcoholism.

Maija Yasui, county prevention program coordinator, told Walden that between 2000 and 2005, there had been a 44 percent reduction in binge drinking among the county’s eighth-graders.

She credited that positive change in statistics to the outreach efforts of students, community members, churches and the Hood River County Commission on Children and Families.

“One of the things we talk about here is that we can do a lot locally but we need our state and federal officials to fill in the gaps,” said Yasui.

Walden was able to help the HRCCCF share its expertise by scoring a $75,000 federal grant for mentoring. Yasui and Joella Dethman, HRCCCF director, can now help officials in Gilliam County and Skamania and Klickitat counties in Washington, set up successful programs.

“You’ve all done such a great job that you can now go and tell other people what works here,” said Walden to his teen audience.

He also obtained $100,000 of continued funding for HRCCF and $100,000 for the Si Se Puede Coalition to further its efforts with Latino students.

Logan garnered a promise from Walden that he would air public service messages designed by students on the Gorge radio stations he owns.

During the Sept. 8 visit, Walden outlined some major steps taken recently by the federal government to stop the trafficking of methamphetamine. He said shipments and sales of pseudoephedrine, a necessary ingredient for the manufacturing of meth, were being more closely regulated internationally.

He said, out of seven meth summits held within his 2nd Congressional District last year, Hood River’s had the best attendance. He said 750 people attended to learn more about the destructive nature of that and other illegal drugs.

Walden said many girls now used meth as the “Jenny Crank” weight-loss plan. However, he said most teens were unaware of the life-long potential for brain damage and other physical ailments caused by ingesting the chemicals and toxins.

Logan then delivered some reassuring news to Walden.

“I know meth is a big problem around the county but we aren’t seeing it here,” he said.

He said that marijuana use was more of an issue among the high school population. Brent Emmons, assistant principal, then brought up an enforcement challenge facing officials.

He said there was no legal way to take action against students coming to school high on drugs because Oregon law forbids possession — but not ingestion.

“It is against school policy but it’s not illegal and that is a bit of a frustration,” said Emmons.

Walden agreed that state and federal officials needed to pass whatever laws were necessary to stop the usage, production and distribution of drugs. He said “sophisticated and deadly” drug cartels were behind many of the major marijuana grows on federal lands in the United States.

He said prevention programs, such as those in Hood River, cut down on the profit margins that were at the heart of those operations. So, the efforts of students and community members were an important part of reducing the problem.

“I want to thank you for the work you’re doing. It’s very important — you’ll probably help more people than you ever know,” said Walden.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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