Thursday, December 22, 2011


Have you heard about the SAFE Coalition?
Do you know about SAFE Coalition activities?
Are you interested in making Van Buren County a SAFE place to live?

We encourage you to join the SAFE Coalition! Maybe one of your New Years Resolutions is to make a difference in your community or to volunteer more of your time. If this is true the SAFE Coalition is for you!

The SAFE Coalition is always in need of new members, especially parents of teens! We want your input on our activities and projects. Are we making a difference in the community and the lives of teens? We need your help to be sure that we are.

The SAFE Coalition has monthly meetings on the third Tuesday of each month. The next meeting will be held on January 17, 2012 at 2:00 pm at the Robert’s Memorial Building. Please come out to see what the coalition is working on and how you can be a part of the great work being done in Van Buren County!

We encourage you to check out our website at or contact us at 319-293-6412 for more information on how you can get involved with the coalition.


If all grownups created holiday wish lists at this time of year, the health and safety of children would surely be one of their most frequent requests. Yet holiday time delivers tragedy to many American families and their communities, thanks in part to the season’s increased rates of excessive alcohol use and underage drinking.

Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) described the challenge in a 2005 op-ed article:
Dancing and prancing through Jingle Bell Square, more than a few seasonal revelers mistake alcohol consumption for holiday celebration—teens included. Following the lead of influential adults, many young people are tempted, even encouraged, to finish up the old and ring in the new by, well, downing a few.

Thanks to concerted efforts by community-based prevention organizations, law enforcement, other community leaders, and family members, progress is being made in reducing underage drinking tragedies. For example, a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration fact sheet reported that fatal crashes involving 15- to 20-year-old drivers who had a blood alcohol content of .01 g/dL or higher dropped from 1,932 in 2000 to 1,210 in 2009—a 37 percent decrease.

Yet holidays seem to invite excess and rule-bending among many people of all ages—a risk for everyone, but particularly for vulnerable children and teens who use alcohol. In a 2010 report, SAMHSA found that on New Year’s Day 2009, there were an estimated 1,980 emergency department visits involving underage drinking compared to 546 such visits on an average day that year—a 263 percent increase. As SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D., said:
This stunning increase in underage drinking related emergency room visits on New Year’s Day should be a wake up call to parents, community leaders and all caring adults about the potential risks our young people face for alcohol-related accidents, injuries and death during this time of year.

As SAMHSA also reminds us, prevention works, and all caring adults can help give young people the gift of health and safety this holiday season, and all year long, by doing their part to prevent underage drinking in their community. From planning an alcohol-safe and drug-free holiday season to modeling and supporting highway safety, we all can do something to protect those we care about—and that’s really worth celebrating.

Helpful Resources
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has useful facts and tips for safe holidays. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration coordinates an annual winter holidays campaign to prevent impaired driving. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers pages of Holiday Health & Safety Tips. Young people can participate in prevention efforts with Holiday Activities developed by SADD.

You may also contact the Van Buren SAFE Coalition for help and information at 319-293-6412 or at The coalition also has resources and information available on the coalition’s website at, it’s blog at, or it’s face book page at Van Buren County SAFE Coalition.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Give Your Loved Ones the Gift of Safety - Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving

There will be many reasons to be merry this holiday season. And making sure that your loved ones enjoy themselves responsibly is one of the most reliable ways to guarantee their safety. That is why The SAFE Coalition would like everyone to embrace the spirit of driving sober this season.

The message is simple, drinking alcohol and driving do not mix. If you plan to consume alcohol, you should plan not to get behind the wheel of a vehicle or ride a motorcycle.

Unfortunately, millions of drivers on America’s highways continue to make deadly decisions by driving a vehicle or riding a motorcycle while intoxicated, which jeopardizes their safety and the safety of others on our roads.

The holiday season can be one of the deadliest and most dangerous times on America’s roadways due to drunk driving. Taking a risk on having your 2011 end in an arrest or death is just not worth it.

During December 2009, there were 753 people killed in crashes that involved drivers or motorcycle riders with blood alcohol concentrations of .08 grams per deciliter or higher.

The SAFE Coalition recommends these simple tips for a safe holiday season:
 Plan a safe way home before the festivities begin;
 Before drinking, designate a sober driver and leave your car keys at home;
 If you’re impaired, call a sober friend or family member;
 If you happen to see a drunk driver on the road, don’t hesitate to contact your local law enforcement;
 And remember, Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving. If you know someone who is about to drive or ride with a driver who is impaired, take the driver’s keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely.

For more information, please visit You may also contact the Van Buren SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or at The coalition also has resources and information available on the coalition’s website at; on it’s blog at; or on it’s face book page at Van Buren County SAFE Coalition.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Top 10 Reasons Not to Legalize Marijuana

In July 2011 the federal government reaffirmed marijuana as a Schedule I substance; i.e., no accepted medical use and high abuse potential. Therefore, its possession and use remains a federal crime. Since federal law preempts state law, marijuana would still be illegal in Iowa.

Proponents often make misleading statements about marijuana arrests and the jail population.

The wrong type of people would be attracted to Iowa and for the wrong reasons. We need tourists attracted by our rolling hills and relaxed environment, not as the Mecca for getting ‘stoned.’

If marijuana is legalized under Iowa law, our state would be considered the ‘POT CAPITAL’ of the nation. This notoriety would have a negative impact on attracting new businesses and families deterred by Iowa’s image and quality of life issues. This could also impact decisions to send students to Iowa institutes of higher education.

Substance abuse studies have shown that businesses and employers will experience greater rates of absenteeism, industrial accidents and tardiness as well as less productivity with a potential work force regularly using marijuana. This not only results in economic losses, but conflicts with the federal Drug Free Workplace requirements and companies losing federal contracts. Businesses would be less likely to stay or move into a state where drug use related risks are high.

At best, potential tax revenue generated by legalizing marijuana will cover only 15% of the collateral costs to our community such as: increased drug treatment, emergency room visits, crime, traffic accidents and school ‘drop-outs’ to name just a few of the costs related to marijuana use.

Marijuana use and its negative health, behavioral and societal impacts will increase among both youth and adults. The best estimates from experts project that the number of regular users would at least double and likely triple in the most vulnerable 12 – 25 age range.

Regular marijuana use can be addictive and lead to deteriorating behavior, particularly in young people. In 2009, 830,000 youth had marijuana addiction characteristics. Sixty-eight percent of youth in drug treatment are there for marijuana use.

As parents and citizens, we have a responsibility to prepare our youth for a healthy and successful future. The basis for their future lies in providing them with a quality educational environment. If marijuana was legalized, it is estimated that 20 – 30 percent of our school-aged children will become regular marijuana users. That will negatively affect their attendance, concentration, memory, brain development and thus academic achievement and participation in a positive educational setting.

Marijuana use affects coordination, decision-making and perception which directly results in impaired driving. People who drive after using marijuana are nearly twice as likely to be involved in a fatal car crash. Drivers, who tested positive for marijuana, after an accident, were more than three times as likely to be responsible for the fatal car crash. In the past ten years in Iowa in 25% of car accidents where the driver tested positive for drug use there was a fatality.


Friday, December 2, 2011

Kaizen- The philosophy of ongoing improvement

The Iowa Counterdrug Task Force recently provided a Kaizen event to the Van Buren County SAFE Coalition. They are offering this service to any substance abuse prevention coalition within the state of Iowa. The Kaizen is a quick, introspective survey with instant visual representation of the results in an easy to understand chart. Coalitions completing this survey will be able to use this information immediately, instantly applying this information to strengthen their coalition and their community.

What is the Coalition Kaizen Event (or “Kaizen”)
 A rapid improvement event for your coalition.
 30 minutes of a regular meeting are devoted to a member survey.
 The survey measures your members’ actual experience, action, and understanding vs. general perceptions or ratings of overall satisfaction.
 The survey is taken using “clickers” which allows for completely anonymous participation.
 The survey produces a highly visual diagnostic which is provided to the coalition within five minutes of completing the survey.
 The survey explores your coalition’s work in each of the twelve essential processes and the Strategic Prevention Framework.

The Van Buren County SAFE Coalition had a total of 27 members in attendance to take part in this process. The survey provided valuable feedback that the coalition will be reviewing over the course of the next few months in order to address areas that need attention. Coalition members who completed the process like the instant feedback and thought it was a great system to be able to quickly identify the strengths and weaknesses of the coalition.

For more information on this project or on how to get involved with the SAFE Coalition you may contact us at 319-293-6412 or visit us on the web at or “Like” us on Facebook!