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Full house on hand to learn about drugs

By Staff | Nov 26, 2014

Sistersville Police Chief Rob Haught and Sheriff’s Deputy Shannon Huffman explain a portion of the drug awareness program to the large crowd in attendance at the drug awareness seminar held in Sistersville on Dec. 18.

Drugs and the problems they cause a community were the main topics of discussion on Dec. 18 at the Sistersville First United Methodist Church as concerned citizens of Tyler County gathered for a drug awareness program.

The evening began with an informational hour-long seminar by Sistersville Police Chief Rob Haught. He provided a presentation to the standing room only audience of types of drugs, what they look like, what they are made up of, and their effects.

“Drug issues are a big, big deal in every community, including this one,” Haught said. “Citizens need to be aware of what they are up against, what they are dealing with.

“Drugs ruin lives,” the chief said. “And not just the person taking them. Drugs ruin your family life, your professional life, everything you have, everything you’re going to have.

“Drug abuse is ugly.”

Examples of drug paraphernalia shown at the drug seminar last week.

Haught continued with the informative seminar, answering questions, detailing addictive behavior, and showing examples of what different drugs can look like and their affects on users.

“I was impressed with the turnout,” Haught said. “I’ve never had this many people attend one of these awareness programs. That’s a good sign for the community, it shows that people recognize there is a drug problem here and are willing to work together to stop it.”

Following the drug awareness seminar, the public was invited to a panel discussion which included local law enforcement agencies, Westbrook counselors, the Tyler County Board of Education representatives, Sistersville General Hospital, the City of Sistersville, Alcoholics Anonymous, City of Paden City, the Tyler Star News, the Tyler County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, and others.

The panel took questions from the large audience in attendance, offering answers to the best of their ability-professionally and completely.

The questions asked by several of those in attendance were varied, but many dealt with what an individual should do if they suspect drug use in their neighborhood or in their family. Many seemed unsure or unwilling to contact law enforcement in such cases.

“Nine times out of 10, we already know about the situation,” said Sheriff’s Deputy Shannon Huffman. “But we collect every piece of information we can to make a case or an arrest. An anonymous tip is just that, it’s anonymous and really can’t be used.”

“Sometimes just one small piece of information is all we need to make an arrest, but sometimes, somebody has to step up and do that.”

“This is your county, your community,” said Tyler County Prosecutor Luke Furbee. “If you don’t want the dealers and users here, you have to be brave enough to make a stand.”

Quoting Edmund Burke, the prosecutor continued, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

“And that’s the dilemma we have here,” said Furbee.

While no absolute solutions were found during the meeting, citizens were made aware of what needs to be done to begin the process of ridding the area of drugs.

“It was wonderful to see standing room only,” said one of the facilitators of the event, Rev. Bill Dawson. “We had a great group of citizens from Tyler, Wetzel, and Pleasants counties coming together to learn what we can do to deter the drug epidemic in our local communities.

“Like everybody else, I had so many questions without answers before we started, and I feel this meeting has answered some of them, but also allowed me to be more determined to help find solutions.

“We want to take our county back and put a stop to the drug problem plaguing our communities,” he said. “Together we can, will, make a difference!”

Several Tyler County residents have expressed interest in another drug awareness seminar and panel discussion being held when more people could attend. Plans are in the making for the next meeting, with the date to be announced.