Story by Lon Tytell
The Warwick Valley Prevention Coalition and the Vernon Coalition received one of three Drug Free Communities (DFC) Support Program mentoring grants that have been awarded this year in the United States. The grant money will be utilized to assess the needs of the community and to develop strategies based on interviews with people and organizations, including the Warwick Valley School System, who are affected by substance abuse.
The primary goal of the mentoring grant is to assist the Warwick Valley Prevention Coalition in becoming eligible to apply for DFC funding on their own by the end of the two year mentoring grant. The second grant will be used to fund the implementation of a plan to address the strategies needed to reduce substance abuse.
“Our goal is to work together to make Warwick and Vernon safe and drug-free places for all our youth,” said Annie Colonna, Warwick Valley Prevention Coalition Coordinator. “Prevention is a powerful tool to counteract prescription drug misuse and other youth substance use in our community and we will use this shared funding to help youth in our communities make healthy choices.”
In February 2016, Anthony Curti, Orange County Assistant DA, joined Orange County Legislator Barry Cheney to announce the new Social Host Law signed by County Executive Steve Neuhaus. Anyone who is over the age of 18 who allows alcohol consumption on their premises will face severe fines, community service and a possible one year imprisonment at the Orange County Jail.
Curti said, “Anytime the community has an opportunity to come together to make the place where we live and work a better, safer place, it is important that we take advantage of that.”
The Town is very grateful for the work of the Coalition. “A real team effort to keep our community safe,” stated Town Supervisor Michael Sweeton.
Warwick Police Lt. John Rader added, “The police department values its relationship with the Coalition and supports their efforts in the community. Our participation with the Coalition allows us to be part of the prevention side not just the prosecution side. Through our participation with the Coalition we have been able to install a drop box for unused medications that is available to the community 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We have had tremendous success with getting hundreds of pounds of drugs off the street through this program in a short amount of time.”
The drop box was made possible with the cooperation of the New York National Guard Task Force, which has been working with Coalition.
Bob Howe, a member of the Warwick Valley Central School District Board of Education, best summed up the importance of the Coalition saying, “I’m involved with the Coalition because of the need and importance of raising the awareness in our community of the growing epidemic of drug abuse with our young people. Over the past few years there have been too many obituaries of our youngsters that listed no cause of death, which may have been attributed to drug use. Some parents have addressed this situation openly and wanted the community to know of the consequences.”