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Riley announces statewide drug prevention grant

Gov. Bob Riley recently announced a comprehensive statewide drug prevention program aimed at steering Alabama’s youth away from drugs, alcohol and tobacco.

Funded by a $9 million grant to the governor’s office from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the approach of the new program will be to combine existing resources of state, regional and local agencies in developing an overall plan.

Riley has appointed a 23-member committee, chaired by Maury Mitchell of the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center, to coordinate the project.

According to Jim Plott, spokesperson for the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) in Montgomery, a statewide survey is currently being done by the state department of education and compiling results will take about two months.

At that point the committee will begin approaching different groups and organizations for the purpose of building the anticipated coalition.

He said that the implications of the new initiative for Selma and Dallas County are not yet known.

Gov. Riley told those present at the news conference announcing the grant, &uot;Drugs and alcohol are a problem in every corner of Alabama and every segment of society.

Riley said that the project will be funded over a three-year period.

The funds, he said, will be awarded to mental health and social service agencies, schools, law enforcement and court officials, and nonprofit community groups which may choose to form coalitions to solve local and area drug problems.

Health and Human Services representatives who have already seen positive results from similar programs in other states have already begun training in Alabama.

The main target of the effort will be juveniles 12-17 years old since they are the most likely age group to succumb to pressures to experiment with alcohol, drugs and tobacco.

The Montgomery news conference was also attended by Health and Human Services representatives and officials with ADECA, whose Law Enforcement and Traffic Safety Division is administering the grant