Louisiana’s prevention funds may not be enough

10 May

Feature type- news
Group: Hannah, Kelsy, Addie
Feature Writer: Hannah Schilling

Money is the root of all evil.

In Louisiana’s case, money is just the opposite— it is the tool that assures the evil caused by substance abuse does not take root in people.

There are over one million teenagers in Louisiana. Over 90,000 of those teenagers abuse some kind of, or a combination of, substances like alcohol, cocaine, heroin and meth.

Programs in Louisiana like Project Northland are making sure the numbers continue to decrease as they have been doing since the start of the program.

A poster made by a student going through Project Northland program.

Tommy Grafton, a professor in Louisiana Tech’s kinesiology department and also a director at Project Northland says since the start of the program, the number of middle school kids drinking alcohol regularly has decreased from 10 percent to 5.6 percent.

But is the $204,000 trickled between four parishes enough to keep the prevention going?

“We could always use more money,” Grafton said. “We could use it to provide more activities, but for more activities, we need more personnel. Teachers are already overloaded because of the mandates by the state and government, and they can’t do anything extra.”

Teachers that are continuously working to achieve those high standards is the reason Project Northland must send their own teachers to inform the students about the dangers of drug abuse.

A student’s elaborate poster showing the consequences of drinking and driving he created during the Project Northland program.

“We are paid so much money per pupil,” Grafton explained. “If our pupil numbers go up, we can go up to a certain amount of money. If our numbers don’t add up to that, we get a smaller budget.”

The balance between budget and students insures that Project Northland never goes into the negative.

The $204,000 is sent from the state’s budget, which comes from the federal government, for prevention is for Project Northland specifically.

Then who funds Lives Lost to Alcohol, the 38 silhouettes that graced the field from March to May, reminding others to think before they act? Who paid for the fake blood and make up that warned the teenagers at Choudrant High School not to drink and drive on prom night?

Grafton said it’s all thanks to the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission.

“If it wasn’t for them, Project Northland would be our only activity,” he said. “We have partnered with them to keep activities going like Click It or Ticket or Lives Lost to Alcohol.”

Grafton said Louisiana receives a couple million dollars for abuse prevention for the year.

NBC charges an average of $3.5 million for each 30 second spot for advertisements during the Super Bowl.

That means Budweiser’s one minute commercial with their signature Clydesdale horses during the 2012 Super Bowl cost them $7 million.
“They spend more in one day on an ad than we spend in one year on prevention,” Grafton said.

Ten seconds of a Super Bowl commercial can pay for Louisiana’s entire year of prevention programs.

According to the numbers, the alcohol companies have the deeper root, and the small amount of money set aside for prevention may not be enough to dig that deep.

Then There was Only an Empty Field Again

4 May

Just as any Louisiana day in the month of May, the sun blazed down in a hot fury. The 89°F weather did not stop Partners in Prevention from accomplishing their task.

“Man, it is so hot, and everyone is sweaty but it has to be done,” said Lives Lost to Alcohol coordinator, Jenny Crume. “The day is not going to get any cooler.”

At exactly 3 p.m., Crume and Partners in Prevention student worker Kate Warner leaned against their small maroon car in hopes that some men would show up with trucks and trailers soon.

“We are supposed to have about 5-10 trucks and trailers to help haul all of the silhouettes to the warehouse, but it is three and no one is here,” said Crume anxiously as sweat began to appear on her shirt.

As 3:05 p.m. approached, four young men pulled onto the field, relieving Crume’s fear of no one showing up.

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Men pull trailer as close as they can to the silhouettes for easy loading.

Partners in Prevention placed the Lives Lost to Alcohol silhouettes in the ground on March 22, 2012.  Placed in the field between Temple Baptist Church and Rabbs Bar and Grill, the people of Lincoln Parish are reminded of all 38 lives lost to alcohol related accidents in the past 10 years.

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38 silhouettes stand in memory of those lost due to alcohol related accidents.

Over the past two months, Partners in Prevention have hosted several awareness events in order to help ensure the safety of the Lincoln Parish community. Events such as the Lives Lost to Alcohol workday, Choudrant High School Mock Crash, and a Lives Lost to Alcohol Display Dedication have been held in respect of those lost.

On May 3, 2012 Partners in Prevention, along with various fraternities, remove the silhouettes from the field.

As 3:15 p.m. approached, the first load was being hauled by two Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity members and two kinesiology students to the Community Trust Warehouse for safe keeping as another truck pulled up.

“The Inner Fraternity Council always helps us out by doing the heavy lifting and Community Trust Bank serves by donating a warehouse to us.” said Warner.

As the three Sigma Nu young men stepped out of the truck, an irritated Crume put them straight to work lifting and loading the heavy silhouettes.

With only three large ply board pieces left to be loaded, one more vehicle pulled onto the scene.

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Silhouettes are hauled to the trailer one by one.

It was now 3:20 p.m. and the two Kappa Alpha men were in charge of the last few pieces of heavy ply board.

Sweat poured down everyone’s face as the sun only beamed brighter in the sky, but the young men continued to load each heavy piece into the truck.

“It is sad to see the silhouettes go because we need them here all year round,” Kappa Alpha sophomore A.T. Emery said. “This is a college town and people drive drunk.”

By 3:30 p.m. everything was loaded, the vehicles were dispersing and all that was left was an empty field once again.

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And the field was empty once again.

Fountain family suffers alcohol abuse…literally

27 Apr

Kelsy Kershaw, Addie Martin and Hannah Schilling

April 27, 2012

Journalism 210 Service Project – LLTA:  Extremities of alcohol abuse and the problems it causes

Feature Writer:  Kelsy Kershaw

Late at night when she would return home from hours at the dance studio, she would brace herself for the danger that awaited her on the other side of the door.  Not sure whether she was going to be dodging a punch or mediating a parental brawl always plagued her mind.  This was a typical evening in the life of Krystal Gail Fountain, Louisiana Tech freshman and Regal Blue, whose father is an alcoholic.

Taken by Brandon Henry

“My father has drank alcohol since he was young, like middle school young,” Fountain said. “He dropped out of high school in 10th grade and everything has pretty much gone downhill from there.”

Fountain’s father has been a diagnosed alcoholic since 1998, when he first attended rehab, and is currently attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings to receive help for his abuse problem.

“Dad’s alcohol abuse has been a problem as far back as I can remember,” Fountain said. “I just remember being really young and really scared, especially when he would hit my mom.”

It is a popular opinion that alcohol abuse causes social problems.  A few examples of these social problems are ill health, family violence or behavioral changes.  Well, Bruce K. Alexander, Ph. D and creator of the Alcohol:  Problems and Solutions website, said that alcoholism is a result of these social problems.

“Not to defend his alcoholic ways, but my dad didn’t start drinking just because; his mom, sister and brother all committed suicide when he was still a teenager and his dad left,” Fountain said. “I do not agree with his drinking at all, nor do I like it, but it’s the mechanism he chose to deal with his problems and because of it our family has suffered.”

According to the Ending Violence Everywhere Foundation website, every one in four women experiences domestic violence in her lifetime.  The website for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism shows that 42 percent of that one-in-four is alcohol-related.

“Alcohol isn’t the only thing my dad abused all my life.  He’s physically hit my mom since I can remember, but he never hit me until high school,” Fountain said. “His drinking has been a huge problem throughout my life but it was at its worst one summer of high school when he got put on probation for literally trying to kill me; he had always pushed and hurt me but never physically assaulted me until then.  He had drank too much alcohol and smoked too much weed and tried to choke me and I blacked out.”

Fountain’s dad is a high school dropout, lacking a college degree and doing maintenance work for the state.  He’s suffered the loss of his entire immediate family—three suicidal deaths and one abandonment—before the age of 18.  He’s been admitted to rehab once and now attends weekly AA meetings, but he still drinks.

“All I ever wanted was to get a hug from my dad, instead I got bruises, cuts and scarred emotions,” Fountain said. “All because of alcohol.”

Fireman recalls drunk driving scenes

19 Apr
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Jones on his day off.

Group: Hannah, Kelsey, Addie
Story Writer: Hannah Schilling
Date: April 18, 2012

The gray blue eyes under his tan baseball cap are set on the orange dot in a sea of brown water.

Mitchel Jones is at home; the soft chirping of crickets and cicadas buzz around him, one hand keeps a firm grip on a fishing pole, the clear line extending far out into the pond, ending at the orange bobber. His other hand rests relaxed in his blue jeans pocket.

This is Jones’s day off. His second home is at the Ruston Fire Station.

“I love it,” Jones said in his slow, southern drawl– but he isn’t talking about fishing.

Jones first allure toward being a fireman was the fact he could quit college, and jump right into the business after a few months of training.

Now, he’s in it for the way he gets to serve the community.

“When someone calls us, it’s because they need help,” Jones said. “No one doesn’t like us, because we help people. I like to help.”

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Jones on the job.

After two days off, the rugged Choudrant native trades his blue jeans for a fire suit, and his fishing pole for the jaws of life.

When the laid back air of the fire house is penetrated by a call, the following actions are done within two minutes and 30 seconds.

The fire house gets the call from the sheriff’s office. They dispatch what and who needs to go where; an ambulance, fire truck or police car.

For this crash, the worst one Jones has ever worked, he called all of them.

“I know what we had wouldn’t do it,” he said, “so we called everyone.”

The firemen step into their outfit, feet nestle into the boots, then arms through the sleeves and lastly, the signature orange hat.

“When you answer the phone, you can tell by the way they sound if it is going to be bad or not,” Jones said.

Sirens wail as all units head for Highway 167, and already Jones is in the zone.

“You know what you’re going to do within the five minutes it takes to get there,” he said.

What Jones must do lies within the crash that has already happened.

It was dark, as expected at 3 a.m. in Lincoln Parish after a harsh rain had just passed through. A Ford Explorer, a color Jones cannot remember because the darkness and the blood has blotted the memory out, drove south bound on Highway 167.

A driver, a passenger in the passenger seat, and another in the backseat, ascended then descended a big hill, went over a water culvert, flipped multiple times, went over a creek and landed upside down.

The driver was drunk.

“I think everyone that drinks and drives should have a wreck,” Jones said, “preferably one that doesn’t harm other people. They should learn a lesson.”

The backseat passenger was the only one not trapped. He crawled out of the window, crossed the south bound lanes, then the northbound lanes, and knocked on the door of a house.

Right after he told the family to call the police, he collapsed on their front porch.

At this moment, the firemen arrive on the scene.

“The man that crawled across the highway was dead,” Jones recalls. “Dead bodies are easier to handle than almost dead bodies. With almost dead bodies, every move we make determines life or death.”

Jones remembers every detail of the wreck when he arrived at the scene.

“I went to the driver’s side, and the drunk man was half pinned under the car,” Jones describes. “He was screaming. I went to the other side, and all I could see was a head. They weren’t talking. I thought I had just seen my first decapitated head, but they were alive, just unconscious and pinned.”

The firemen had to figure out how to rip the sides and top of the vehicle off to release the trapped people without the vehicle falling into the creek, filled with water after the heavy rain.

Three helicopters were called, and after a complicated combination of chains being hooked on different parts of the vehicle, raising it in the air, then ripping off the roof and both doors, the injured people were freed.

Despite the extensive efforts of the firemen and Jones, no lives were saved that night.

“The driver died a week later,” Jones said. “The other guy was basically a vegetable.”

When asked about drunk driving wrecks, Jones just shakes his head and confesses he has no sympathy for the drivers.

“You drink, you drive, you pay a price,” he said.

Unfortunately, many drivers don’t pay a price like the victims.

“Usually the person drunk doesn’t even get hurt,” he said. With his arm, he illustrated a sober person’s muscles during a wreck, “See, when a sober person gets in a wreck, their muscles tense, so they don’t give, so things break. When a person is drunk, their muscles are relaxed, so they give and don’t absorb so much of the shock.”

Jones recalls one wreck where the man was so drunk he was still asleep after hitting two cars and almost splitting his truck in half with a power pole.

“He refused to go to the hospital, but the police took him in handcuffs,” he said. “That was the night half of Ruston blacked out because of that wreck.”

After the day is over, he slips his boots off, and goes home to enjoy his next two days of hunting and fishing, but for some like Jones, the job doesn’t stop when the uniform comes off.

“Some calls,” he paused, and with grey eyes still visited by jobs of the past, finished,”they’ll haunt you.”

Lives Lost To Alcohol Dedication

13 Apr
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6 Apr

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6 Apr

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