Thursday, November 29, 2018

Working Together to Make Van Buren County SAFE

The Van Buren County SAFE Coalition, through funding from the Iowa Partnerships for Success Grant, is working to combat underage drinking. Residents may not realize that preventing alcohol abuse begins with effective policies and procedures. “It’s common to think of law enforcement as the primary way to stop teen drinking through arrests and citations,” said Kris Rankin, Van Buren County’s Iowa Partnerships for Success Coordinator. “It is clear that law enforcement is a vital part of the network that is working to prevent and stop underage drinking and youth binge drinking; however, actions taken at the city and private facility level are also key to creating a healthy and safe environment for teens and adults.”

A good example of this is Keosauqua’s Band Shell Rental Policy that requires adult supervision of events with participants under 21 years of age, that no alcohol be provided to anyone under the age of 21 at an event, a higher deposit for events with alcohol being served or sold at them, that alcohol be consumed in a fenced portion of the property where participants under the age of 21 are not allowed, and if cash bars are used, they must provide proof of dram shop insurance and have a valid liquor sales license. 

The SAFE Coalition is available to work with residents, organizations and community leaders to prevent underage drinking and to help develop appropriate policies for their location. The coalition has worked with the Douds Community Center, the Douds Community Club Grounds, the Lodge at Windy Ridge, and the Keosauqua Senior Center to develop new written policies for their private facilities.  They have all now implemented new written alcohol restriction policies for their facilities.  The coalition has also been working with the City of Birmingham, City of Bonaparte and City of Farmington to develop alcohol restriction policies for their Public Places.  Residents are encouraged to learn about and advocate for strong alcohol-related policies.

The SAFE Coalition and Sieda Community Action offer free Merchant Alcohol Trainings where servers are trained in the best practices of alcohol service to keep alcohol out of the hands of youth in the county.  The SAFE Coalition also has ID Scanners that can be utilized during any event in the Van Buren County area. 

The SAFE Coalition received the Iowa Partnerships for Success Grant in February 2015 to address underage drinking and underage binge drinking in Van Buren County.  The Van Buren County SAFE Coalition’s Partnership for Success project is funded by the Iowa Department of Public Health, through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

For more information on underage drinking, visit or contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-3334 ext. 1017 or

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Tips for Party Givers

The Van Buren County SAFE Coalition would like to encourage you to avoid making alcohol the main focus of social events this holiday season. Entertain guests with music, dancing, games, food, and lively conversation.  Did you know that one in three adults prefers a nonalcoholic beverage? Make sure to offer plenty of nonalcoholic choices such as sparkling water, fancy juice drinks, soft drinks, and bottled drinking water.  Also provide guests with nutritious and appealing foods to slow the effects of alcohol. High protein and carbohydrate foods like cheese and meats are especially good. They stay in the stomach much longer, which slows the rate at which the body absorbs alcohol. Avoid salty foods, which encourage people to drink more.

Require bartenders to measure the correct amount of liquor into drinks (no doubles), and instruct them not to serve anyone who appears to be impaired or underage. Have the bartender check the ID of anyone who appears to be under the age of 30 (no ID, no alcohol).  Stop serving drinks at least 1 hour before the end of the event.  Instead, serve coffee, non-alcoholic beverages, and desserts at that time.

Your responsibility as a host is even more important when the party is over. Be prepared to offer your guests alternate forms of transportation, such as: Ask someone who was not drinking to drive a guest home; Call someone to come and drive them home; Offer your place to spend the night; If the person insists on driving despite his or her obvious intoxication, take the keys, ask for help from other guests, or temporarily disable the car; If all else fails, say you will call the police (and do so).

The following non-alcoholic drink recipes are a courtesy of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Join Together, a national resource center for communities working to reduce substance abuse.  Many of these unique drinks can add “flavor” to your party by giving your guests healthy, tasty alternatives to alcoholic beverages. Enjoy!

Citrus Collins
Fill a 10–12 oz. glass with ice cubes
2 oz. orange juice
1 oz. lemon juice
1 oz. flavored syrup
Fill with club soda. Garnish with an orange slice or a cherry.

Mai Tai
1/2 cup pineapple juice
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup club soda
1 tbsp. cream of coconut
1 tbsp. grenadine syrup
In a shaker or tall glass, combine ingredients; shake or stir to blend.  Add crushed ice.

Lemon-Strawberry Punch
6 oz. frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1 pkg. frozen sliced strawberries
6 oz. frozen lemonade concentrate
1 quart carbonated water
1 quart ginger ale
Sliced bananas
Sliced oranges or lemons
Combine frozen lemonade, strawberries (half-thawed with juice), and orange juice. Place in a punchbowl with ice. Just before serving, add carbonated water and ginger ale. Garnish with thin slices of orange, lemon, or banana. Serves 20.

Holiday Delight
Blend the following ingredients in a mixer:
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup frozen strawberries
1/4 cup cranapple juice
1/4 cup half-and-half
1/2 banana
Pour into a tall glass.

Viennese Coffee
1/4 cup whipped cream
1 tbsp. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Beat until stiff.  Pour 3 cups of very strong coffee (decaffeinated is fine) into four cups. Float whipped cream mixture on top. Garnish with 1/2 tsp. grated orange peel. Use cinnamon sticks in each cup as servers.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

16th annual National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

Federal, state and local partners collect 914,236 pounds across the country

Americans nationwide did their part to drop off unused, unwanted or expired prescription medications during the DEA’s 16th National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, with 5,839 sites across the country. Together with local, state and federal partners, DEA collected and destroyed 914,236 pounds —457.12 tons—of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs, making it a very successful event. This brings the total amount of prescription drugs collected by DEA since the fall of 2010 to 10,878,950 pounds, or 5,439.5 tons.  Locally the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office has collected 54 lbs. of medication to be destroyed. 

“National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is a day for every American, in every community across the country, to come together and do his or her part to fight the opioid crisis – simply by disposing of unwanted prescription medications from their medicine cabinets,” said DEA Acting Administrator Robert W. Patterson. “This event – our 16th – brings us together with local, state and federal partners to fight the abuse of prescription drugs that is fueling the nation’s opioid epidemic.”

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day events continue to remove ever-higher amounts of opioids and other medicines from the nation’s homes, where they could be stolen and abused by family members and visitors, including children and teens.

This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet.

DEA launched its prescription drug take back program when both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration advised the public that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—posed potential safety and health hazards.

Helping people to dispose of potentially harmful prescription drugs is just one way DEA is working to reduce the addiction and overdose deaths plaguing this country due to opioid medications.  Complete results for DEA’s spring Take Back Day are available at DEA’s next Prescription Drug Take Back Day is April 27, 2019.

There is a permanent medication drop box available in the entry way of the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office in Keosauqua.  You can bring your pills and patches there to dispose of them safely during business hours no questions asked.  For non-controlled substances (including liquids and inhalers) you may dispose of those at Lee’s Pharmacy in Keosauqua.  If you have any questions please contact the Van Buren County SAFE Coalition at 319-293-3334 ext. 1017.  

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Give Yourself Something to Be Thankful for this Thanksgiving

The seasons are turning from warm summer days to cool crisp mornings and vibrant fall colors. The season for thanksgiving is upon us and this is a time to give thanks for all things important to you.  While there are many things you may be thankful for in your life some may be dealing with the abuse of drugs and alcohol. The SAFE Coalition wants to take this opportunity to provide you with resources to assist you in your decision to become free of Drug Addiction.  Keep in mind drug addiction includes addiction to alcohol and tobacco. 

It takes courage and strength to face up to drug addiction. When you’re bogged down in drug abuse and drug addiction, sobriety can seem like an impossible goal. But recovery is never out of reach, no matter how hopeless your current situation seems.

Change is possible with the right treatment and support, and by making lifestyle changes that address the root cause of your addiction. Don’t give up, even if you’ve tried and failed before. There are many different roads to recovery, but almost all involve bumps, pitfalls, and setbacks. But by examining the problem and thinking about making the necessary changes, you’re already on your way. These seven steps will help you on your road.

1.       Decide to make a change: For many people struggling with addiction, the biggest and toughest step toward recovery is the very first one: deciding to make a change. It’s normal to feel conflicted about giving up your drug of choice, even when you realize it’s causing problems in your life. Change is never easy.
2.       Explore your treatment options: Once you’ve made the decision to challenge your drug addiction, it’s time to explore your treatment choices. Options can be found online, by talking to your doctor or calling 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
3.       Reach out for support: Don’t try to go it alone. Whatever treatment approach you choose, having a solid support system is essential. The more positive influences you have in your life, the better your chances for recovery. Recovering from drug addiction isn’t easy, but with people you can turn to for encouragement, guidance, and a listening ear, it’s a little less tough.
4.       Learn healthy ways to cope with stress: Even once you’ve recovered from drug addiction, you’ll still have to face the problems that led to your drug problems in the first place. Did you start using drugs to numb painful emotions, calm yourself down after an argument, unwind after a bad day, or forget about your problems? After you become sober, the negative feelings that you used to dampen with drugs will resurface. For treatment to be successful, and to remain sober in the long term, you’ll need to resolve these underlying issues as well.
5.       Keep triggers and cravings in check: While getting sober from drugs is an important first step, it’s only the beginning of the recovery process. Once sober, the brain needs time to recover and rebuild connections that have changed while addicted. During this time, drug cravings can be intense. You can support your continued sobriety by making a conscious effort to avoid people, places, and situations that trigger the urge to use.
6.       Build a meaningful drug free life: You can support your drug treatment and protect yourself from relapse by having activities and interests that provide meaning to your life. It’s important to be involved in things that you enjoy and make you feel needed. When your life is filled with rewarding activities and a sense of purpose, your addiction will lose its appeal.
7.       Don’t let relapse keep you down: Relapse is a common part of the recovery process from drug addiction. While relapse is understandably frustrating and discouraging, it can also be an opportunity to learn from your mistakes and correct your treatment course.

By taking the above steps to become free of addiction next thanksgiving you could be giving thanks for a sober life.

Information provided by Helpguide. Additional information can be found on their website at If you would like additional local assistance you may contact the SAFE Coalition at or by phone at 319-293-3334 ext. 1017 or online at

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Red Ribbon Week 2018: Life is Your Journey – Travel Drug Free

By: Sydney Goemaat
Red Ribbon Week, held annually during the last week in October, is a nationwide effort to celebrate healthy, drug-free living and to motivate youth across the country to choose to live drug-free. The week serves as a great opportunity to create dialogue with youth, to mobilize your community, and to honor law enforcement officers who work every day to keep communities safe from drugs and the associated consequences.  Hundreds of organizations across the country use Red Ribbon Week to bring drug prevention messaging to their communities through events and activities.

The Youth Leadership Council (YLC) at Van Buren Middle/High School did several activities to help engage youth and parents in the fight against nicotine use and alcohol abuse during Red Ribbon Week 2018.  The high school YLC members placed a message with cups in the fence by the school parking lot saying “#be substance free”. This was a great place for everyone to get a chance to read the message as they drove in and out of the parking lot for school and school-related events. The Middle School YLC Members held a week long scavenger hunt where they hid tobacco facts in the middle school and students found the facts and answered questions with those facts for a chance to win a prize. 

A group of high school YLC students decorated two Boards of Horror at the Middle/High School. One displayed the number of deaths that occurred during wars beginning with the war of 1812 and then on the last day shared the facts on how many deaths each year are caused by drunk driving and alcohol abuse.  The second board shared information on the number of people killed by different serial killers and on the last day shared the number of people who die each year due to tobacco use.  The Boards of Horror help to educate the students about the consequences of what substance abuse can do to people’s lives.

During the Regional Volleyball game the Youth Leadership Council had a table at the event that allowed them to talk to the people coming to support the game about Red Ribbon Week and the work they are doing in the community. They distributed bracelets, pencils, nonpermanent tattoos, and informational brochures on tobacco, vaping, alcohol policies, and a proposed social host ordinance. They also had Mr. Gross mouth on display for the people to see. This mouth shows how a person’s tongue, teeth, and gums are affected by tobacco use.

For more information on Red Ribbon Week or the Youth Leadership Council, you may contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-3334 ext. 1017 or via email at 
Take time to talk to your teen about the dangers of drugs, alcohol and tobacco. For information on talking to your teens check out the coalition’s resource page:

Want to make a difference in Van Buren County?

The Van Buren County SAFE Coalition is continually looking for community members who are interested in making Van Buren County a SAFE place to live.

The Van Buren County SAFE Coalition came together originally in 1993, after the floods, as a way to get community members together to work on a specific issue.  This group was organized to assist with flood efforts and clean-up after the flood.  The group met sporadically over the next few years.  It was not until December of 2002 that the group became organized.  There were 11 members at the first organized meeting, and the group has now grown to over 60 members. 

The coalition is currently working on strategies to address tobacco prevention, Rx and OTC medication abuse, underage drinking and underage binge drinking in Van Buren County with Community Partnership Funds, Community Grants, and the Iowa Partnership for Success Funds. This work requires input from all areas of the community. If you are a parent, business owner, concerned citizen, faith based representative, young adult, youth worker, youth, or anyone else who wants to make a difference, the coalition needs you. Your input is valuable and we want to hear from you.

If you are interested in finding out more about the coalition or think that you would like to get involved the coalition would love to have you join! Coalition meetings are held on the 3rd Tuesday of the month at 4:30 pm at the VBCH Community Services Center Conference Room in Keosauqua. Light refreshments will be available at 4:15 pm.  There is a conference line if you cannot be there in person, but would like to call in and participate in the meeting. 

Next Meeting:
November 20th at 4:30 pm
VBCH Community Services Center Conference Room

If you are interested in joining but not able to attend or call in to the meeting, please contact us at 319-293-3334 ext. 1017 or via email at and you can be added to our member list.

Check us out on the web for more information: on the coalition blog at - or on Facebook at Van Buren County SAFE Coalition.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Van Buren County IPFS Project Update

The Van Buren County SAFE Coalition was awarded the Iowa Partnership for Success (IPFS) Grant in February 2015 to address underage drinking and underage binge drinking in Van Buren County.  The coalition began the fifth year of this five year grant on September 30, 2018.  The Van Buren County SAFE Coalition’s IPFS project is funded by the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

During the 2018-19 Fiscal Year the coalition is continuing to build capacity and sustainability, evaluate the work being done, and implement the five strategies it was funded to work on as follows:  

1) Alcohol Restrictions at Community Events at Privately Owned Facilities: The coalition is working with privately owned facilities to help them write, adopt, and implement alcohol policies focused on the Best Practices for Alcohol Service at their location.  During the 2018-19 Fiscal Year the coalition members will continue to work with three of the ten facilities in Van Buren County to encourage implementation of alcohol restrictions policies.  One facility is in the process of writing their new policy.  The coalition has worked with four facilities already to adopt and implement new written alcohol restriction policies since 2016.  One of the facilities implemented a combined no alcohol allowed policy and a best practices policy.  Two of the other facilities implemented a no alcohol allowed policy.  The final facility implemented a best practices policy.  The coalition heard from three of the facilities that they are not interested in written policies right now.  Two of the facilities currently have a verbal no alcohol allowed policy.  One does not want any kind of alcohol restriction policy at this time.  The coalition would recommend that all facilities in the county put into place a written alcohol restriction policy. 

2) Alcohol Restrictions in Public Places: Coalition members visited with each city council in 2017 to present them with information on policies they could use that would address the availability of alcohol to youth in public places, such as public parks and community ball fields.  Coalition members visited with the city councils in early 2018 to find out if they are were interested in implementing Alcohol Restriction Policies for their public places. Four towns stated at that time that they are not interested in implementing Alcohol Restriction Ordinances at this time.  Another town has written policies for their ball park and city park and will be hanging signs at the ball park that no alcohol is allowed.  One town is allowing the coalition to participate in a community event planning committee that will set policy for their community events and may allow a policy through this committee.  One town has committed to writing and implementing a best practices alcohol restriction policy for their community parks by the end of 2018.  The coalition is now working to find ways to work with the towns that have said they are not interested in ordinances. 

3) Substance Abuse Prevention Programs for Youth: The coalition has been working with the Van Buren Community School District to implement the Botvin Life Skills Training Program in the 7th and 8th grades since the 2016-17 school year.  During the 2017-18 school year all of the 7th grade students completed Level I of the curriculum and the 8th grade students completed Level II as the curriculum builds on the information provided each year. The 8th grade students were also able to complete an additional module that addressed prescription drug safety with the help of the Jefferson, Keokuk, Van Buren, and Washington Decategorization Board (Decat Board). For the 2018-19 school year the curriculum will be taught by a different teacher so, the coalition and school district with the help of the Decat Board made sure the teacher is trained and ready for the new school year to implement the Life Skills program. In the 2018-19 school year the 7th grade will complete Level I and the 8th grade will complete Level II. 

4) Underage Drinking Prevention Media Campaign: The coalition has worked with local media outlets to implement IDPH’s “What Do You Throw Away” underage drinking prevention media campaign.  It is currently displayed on posters in the Van Buren County Hospital & Clinics; posters and screensavers at local libraries; and posters, electronic billboard ads, and computer backgrounds at the Van Buren Community Middle/High School. During the summer of 2018 the campaign was also displayed in poster form at local convenience stores, the Keosauqua Pool, and at Lacey Keosauqua State Park.  The coalition will continue to work with local media outlets to ensure youth are exposed to the media campaign. 

5) Social Host Ordinance: A Social Host Ordinance addresses the problem of adults knowingly providing a place for underage drinking to happen.  The coalition currently is working to educate community members and government officials on why this ordinance would be helpful in Van Buren County and to build support for the ordinance.  The coalition hosted three community conversations this summer to help educate community members about the ordinance, how to approach local government officials to encourage support for the ordinance and to allow for discussion on the need for such policies in Van Buren County.