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Meeting of the Minds Generates Ideas, Progress for Tyler County

By Staff | Nov 19, 2015

Photo by Miles Layton Civic leaders who attended the fourth annual Meeting of Municipalities included Pastor Bill Dawson, Sistersville United Methodist Church; Tyler Schools Superintendent Robin Daquilante; Mary Jo Guidi, regional coordinator for U.S. Senator Joe Manchin; Alex King, recreation director at Middlebourne’s Parks and Recreation; Sistersville Lions Club President Lisa Northcraft; Sistersville Councilwoman Bonnie Hizer; Barbara Hopkins, a retired educator; Paden City Mayor John Hopkins; and Becky Hayes Rice of the Tyler County Democratic Party. Not pictured was Paden City Councilman Joel Davis and Paden City Recorder Tami Billiter.

Civic leaders gathered recently to discuss drug prevention and how to better engage citizens and young people at the fourth annual Meeting of Municipalities.

“Round table discussions like this is how you share ideas that’s what you do,” Paden City Mayor John Hopkins said at the meeting Nov. 12 at Paden City Hall.

Alex King, a key organizer for the meeting, added, “If we can show that we are united, maybe this would give us more of an edge for grant funding.”

Becky Hayes Rice of the Tyler County Democratic Committee added that forums like this are important “to see what we can do to help our children.”

Those attending the meeting included Hopkins and his wife, Barbara, as well as Tyler Schools Superintendent Robin Daquilante, Sistersville United Methodist Church Pastor Bill Dawson, Sistersville Council woman Bonnie Hizer, Sistersville Lions Club President Lisa Northcraft, Mary Jo Guidi Regional Coordinator for U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, Paden City Councilman Joel Davis, Becky Hayes Rice of the Tyler County Democratic Committee, and King, a member of the Sistersville’s Parks and Recreation Board and director of Middlebourne’s Parks and Recreation Department.

Leaders also discussed forming a preservation and restoration group that would seek to preserve historic properties such as the county home. Known to many as the “Poor Farm” there is discussion about demolishing the 100-year-old structure because Tyler County Commissioners contend that renovating the structure may be too expensive.

“Preservation of our country’s historical structures shows that we take pride in our past and dedicated and creative enough to carry it into our future,” King said.

Leaders grappled with how to deal with the drug problem that affects people not just in Tyler County, but the Ohio Valley. Mayor Hopkins among others spoke of how American culture has changed in recent decades so as to make drug use more common.

Tyler Schools Superintendent Robin Daquilante recalled a recent conversation she had with a teenager who was drinking and taking Xanax on a regular basis. The teen told the superintendent, a longtime former teacher, that based on his addictions among other factors, he expected to be dead within a year.

“That’s a real hard conversation to have with a 16-year-old,” she said.

Daquilante said some students, who are exposed to drugs by their parents, seek help to break free from these bad influences, but there is no support at home. Forum members discussed creating safe houses where people can go to escape from the culture of drug and alcohol dependency.

Leaders stressed the need to create programming and support structures for young people and adults who are addicted to drugs and alcohol. Hopkins’ wife, Barbara, a retired teacher, discussed Kidz First, spoke highly of a program that feeds and entertains young people on Mondays at the New Martinsville United Methodist Church .

King added, “Activities and programs have a profound impact when it comes to prevention. Friendships are fostered, kids with difficult home lives have a positive outlet and adults can become great role models. Programs can work with people of any age. It’s about offering something that makes them feel good about themselves and improves their quality of life.”

Civic engagement was another key topic discussed at the forum. King talked about a volunteer youth council for high school students so as to better connect them with local leadership.

“I’m very pleased to see that so many of our local leaders are on board with this idea,” he said.