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St. Mary's hosts alcohol, drug discussion

Recently, a lot of attention has been focused on the prevalence of methamphetamine and recreational drug use, through community presentations by nationally renowned speakers.

But while these presentations did much to highlight the scope of the problem from a national perspective, they did not give a clear picture of how the problem has impacted local communities -- and particularly, the area's teen population.

To bring this local impact into better focus, the Community Relations Committee of the St. Mary's Regional Health Center Foundation is hosting "a community discussion on teen alcohol and drug issues in Becker County."

According to LeAnn Mouw, director of development and community relations for St. Mary's Regional Health Center, the program will include a panel of six "local experts" who will bring their own views of the problem to the table.

"All of the people who were asked (to participate in the panel) were on board with it right away," she said.

The program, which is called "Facts Bring Freedom," will take place on Thursday, April 27 at 7 p.m., on the campus of Minnesota State Community & Technical College in Detroit Lakes.

The five participating panelists will include Becker County Sheriff Tim Gordon; Assistant Becker County Attorney Mike Fritz; St. Mary's Emergency Department physician Dr. Blair Nelson; Rev. Keith Barberg, pastor of Christian Fellowship Church in Detroit Lakes; and Jenny Linstrom, K-12 social worker for Lake Park-Audubon Public Schools.

St. Mary's CEO Tom Thompson will serve as moderator for the discussion.

Lynnette Price, a member of the St. Mary's Community Relations Committee who has been working with Mouw to coordinate the program, said she believes the problem can only be addressed if the community pulls together to help "bring forth a generation of health, hope, purpose and prosperity."

"We need to take the information we've learned (about drug use) and address how it affects our teens locally," Price said. "We need to look at how we can pull together as a community and make the changes we need... to bring about positive change."

Each of the five panelists will be presented with an opportunity to answer four prepared questions about teen drug and alcohol use. Once each panelist has been given an opportunity to answer the prepared questions, the discussion will be opened to the audience to ask questions as well, Mouw said.

"Each of (the panelists) will have the same opportunity to answer the questions, related to their professional experience," Mouw said.

"We will also be asking for their recommendations on how to address these issues," Price added. "It takes a community to really make this work... thank goodness St. Mary's and our local schools have stepped up to take the lead on these issues."

The April 27 presentation is free and open to the public. For more information, contact St. Mary's Regional Health Center at 847-5611.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454