A number of changes were seen at the March 21 meeting of Paden City Neighborhood Watch. Gathering at a new location, in the Paden City Church of the Nazarene, the group welcomed many first-time faces and guest speakers.
Among those speakers was Fred King, who has served as an educator since 1975. As well as coaching sports, he has also made strides leading student groups against drug and alcohol abuse.
"Fred makes a difference to our students," said Watch Team Leader Mike Turner, introducing King.
PCHS Athletic Director Fred King shares his personal experiences of dealing with a loved one gripped by drug addiction.
King was there to share his own experience in dealing with a loved one addicted to drugs. According to him, drugs had his brother for over 20 years. He described the how many institutions fail to provide real help, the way addicts may use subtle threats to turn loved ones into enablers, and how they are able to abuse "the system."
"It's unbelievable what they can do," he said, speaking of addicts. "They have power."
He also discussed how one person's addiction can have a negative affect on the lives of many.
"My brother's drug addiction affected over 367 people," he said.
He revealed that he eventually signed a witness statement resulting in his brother's arrest.
"When we went to visit him in prison he looked at me, shook my hand, and said 'Thank you for saving my life," revealed King.
Above all else, he noted the personal responsibility that should be attributed to drug abuse. He said that sometimes it takes being cold and calling their bluffs.
"It comes down to choice," he said. "How do we fix it? We've got to stop feeling sorry for people and tell them how it is. You need self-esteem, don't get me wrong, but don't use it as a battering ram. We've got to hold our kids more accountable. So what if you do hurt their feelings. They'll get over it."
He also commended the work that the neighborhood watch is doing in the community. "People who care are people who get things done," he said.
Another guest speaker was Paden City High School (PCHS) Principal Jay Salva.
"Being here is like a dream," he said. "This is a great community and we have a great school and great staff. That's the reason why I travel an hour each day to work here."
He said that no drugs were found during three scheduled searches of the school by a police drug dog. Regarding a recent instance in which many police cars were in the PCHS parking lot, he explained that officers were visiting to look at safety plans, not because of a current problem, and revealed that updates were made.
With prom approaching, he discussed initiatives to combat underage drinking as well as drinking and driving. Salva also mentioned: the recent formation of the RESPECT Club, an initiative to combat teen dating violence; an upcoming anti-bullying presentation, to be put on by the National Guard; and the forthcoming visit of Alicia Kozakiewicz, a victim of internet predation who will speak to students about such dangers.
Paden City Police Chief Mike Kelly, Patrolman J.D. Kelly, and Patrolman Jason Utt took turns speaking of their work within the community as well as the neighborhood watch.
"We've got some good things done, but we've still got a long way to go," said Chief Kelly.
He continued to urge more people to get involved with helping to solve the problem, while noting that people should also be careful.
"Because of this drug problem, people are going out and doing things they never would have done in their lives," he said.
Regarding the drug problem, Patrolman Kelly pointed to their monthly police department report for February.
"We didn't have any drug calls," he said. "That's a good sign we're making an impact."
He also pointed out that different police departments in the area are helping each other when it comes to backup, stating that they often err on the side of caution and call for assistance when they are unsure of the danger a situation may present.
Patrolman Utt stated that his heart is in law enforcement. He spoke highly of Paden City and his gratitude to the community. Given other occupational options available to him under the degree he is earning, he explained his reason for choosing police work.
"Police officers aren't made," he said, citing a quote from his interview with Chief Kelly. "They're born."
In other news: the PCPD will start ticketing cars parked on curbs, the neighborhood watch signs for both ends of the town have been ordered; people in the community of Paden Fork have expressed interest in joining the initiative; members of Child Protective Services are in the plans as future guest speakers; Watch Organizer Barb Hopkins urged members to share blank suspicious activity report forms with their neighbors; and the raffle for the quilt "Broken Dishes" ended with Pat Lucas as winner.