POINT PLEASANT — The Mason County Prevention Coalition met on Tuesday afternoon with special visitors in attendance discussing the current Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) chapters in Mason County as well as other ideas of prevention for the county.
Mason County Commissioner Tracy Doolittle was in attendance to present a check worth $12,000 on behalf of the Mason County Commission to the prevention coalition and the Mason County Family Resource Network (FRN). This contribution is an upfront payment of the grant these two organizations were awarded from Prestera. The FRN will house and distribute the funds per the grant regulations with no administrative fee. Monthly reimbursements will be paid to the Mason County Commission.
Also in attendance were students from Marshall University who were filming the meeting for a documentary they are making about the region and SADD students from Point Pleasant Junior/Senior High School (PPJ/SHS).
The PPJ/SHS SADD students shared a few of their ideas for this school year such as having activities in and out of school for Red Ribbon Week next month and attending and the Point Pleasant Halloween Block Party. Since the last meeting, a SADD chapter has been formed at Hannan Junior/Senior High School. For the first time, all three high schools in Mason County have active SADD chapters. The prevention coalition members would like to have all three schools have student representative attend the meetings, so they can all share their thoughts and activities among one another. Also, the prevention coalition members would like to send SADD student representatives to the State SADD conference this spring.
In other business, the prevention coalition members discussed ways to enhance prevention in the county.
It was reported that Mason County Superintendent Jack Cullen feels that vaping and juuling has become a widespread problem in the schools. The prevention coalition members agreed that the school restrooms need a detector, which cost approximately $1,000 each, to help identify and prevent these activities.The prevention coalition members will work to find funding sources to help secure detectors for the schools. They also determined to conduct vaping/juuling training in all of the Mason County Schools during this school year.
The prevention coalition members signed a memorandum of understanding with Prestera to coordinate a needs assessment for the county. A list of key stakeholders has been developed and those individuals will soon receive a request to attend the needs assessment meeting which will be held at the Mason County Board of Education office in Point Pleasant. Any individual who is interested in participating can contact Greg Fowler, FRN executive director.
Jennifer Thomas, Mason County Health Department administrator and nursing director, reported that Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) prevention was needed within the county as well. For further prevention awareness, each of the area high schools will be receiving pregnancy prevention trainings this school year as well.
The prevention coalition members will be participating in Red Ribbon week, Teen Institute which is set for Thursday, Oct. 24, the Point Pleasant Halloween Block Party which is set for Thursday, Oct. 31 and the Career Connections Quarterly Training which is set for Thursday, Nov. 14.
Though the prevention coalition is moving in a positive direction, the members would still like to see more representatives from key agencies in Mason County attend the monthly meetings, so more ideas can be brought to the table which can result in planning and execution of prevention activities.
Erin Perkins Johnson and Greg Fowler contributed to this article.