Thursday, November 10, 2005


It's time to deal with the reality of underage drinking and drug use.

Attend this special informational evening regarding local teen drinking and drug use. Understand its cost to our children and community. Discover how your neighborhood can be a part of the solution to protect young people, homes and property.

Date: Thursday, November 17th 7:00pm - 8:30pm
Chapel Hill Public Library (downstairs meeting room)
This event is free and open-to-the-public.

  • Dale Pratt-Wilson, with The Committee for Alcohol & Drug Free Teenagers, will present a compelling 15-minute film depicting today's generation of youth and alcohol issues, how it is different from 20 years ago and what other communities are doing about it.
  • Officer Robin Clark, with the Chapel Hill Police Department's Community Watch Program, will discuss the relationship between alcohol/drug use and incidence of crime and vandalism.
  • Ms. Wanda Boone, with The Partnership for a Drug Free North Carolina's Parent Corp, will talk about the strategy of informal neighborhood parent groups and parent awareness Issues.
  • Mr. Bill Patterson, former Deputy Director of NC Alcohol Law Enforcement and current Senior Program Manager for the Underage Drinking Enforcement Training Center, will discuss how communities contribute to the problem of youth access to alcohol, the price we pay for underage drinking and what your neighborhood can do about it.
Questions: 942-3300 OR

The Committee for Alcohol & Drug Free Teenagers of Chapel Hill and Carrboro

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Community Coalition Meeting

The Committee for Alcohol & Drug Free Teenagers of Chapel Hill & Carrboro invites you to attend a coalition meeting to discuss on-going community-wide efforts to combat underage drinking/drug use, as well as to share future strategies to address this growing public health and safety concern.

    The community coalition meeting is open-to-the-public. All citizens and stakeholders are encouraged to attend. (Please freely distribute this invitation.)

    The meeting will be held on:
    Thursday, November 3rd at 12 noon at Squid's Restaurant in Chapel Hill (located at 1201 15-501 bypass)

    A complimentary lunch will be served. Please RSVP to by November 1st if you plan to attend so food can be properly arranged.

Dale Pratt-Wilson

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Roses & Raspberries

Dave Hart - The Chapel Hill News

  • Roses to Allison Finch, the Chapel Hill police officer who runs a program that teaches employees of bars and restaurants how to stay within the law when they serve alcohol.

  • The program is called BARS, for Be A Responsible Server, and it's a good one.

    Bartenders and waits bear a sober responsibility, if you'll excuse the pun, to serve only those people who are legally allowed to drink -- meaning people who are at least 21 and not already drunk. Sounds pretty simple, but on any busy night it requires a lot of judgment calls, made very quickly: Is this driver's license legit, or is it a good fake? Is that customer so tipsy that it's time to cut him off, or is he OK for one more?

    Given the consequences of bad calls on those decisions -- which can range from legal charges to the loss of a liquor license to the truly tragic, if a drunk customer gets behind the wheel -- it makes sense to give the people who make them some advanced training.

    That's what Finch does. She educates bar and restaurant employees about the law. She cautions them about employees drinking in the workplace. She shows them how to spot fake IDs.

    Finch and BARS perform a valuable service. Now if we could just get everybody to sign up for BARD -- Be A Responsible Drinker -- we'd really be getting somewhere.

    Spotting Fake IDs 101

    By LEAH FRIEDMAN, STAFF WRITER, The Chapel Hill News

    CHAPEL HILL -- Standing in front of a floor-to-ceiling wine cooler at Elaine's on Franklin, Police Officer Allison Finch pulled a plastic ID out of an envelope.

    It's her favorite fake.

    She uses the paper ID taped to a red, plastic YMCA blood donor card to make a point: Servers should ask customers to take their IDs out of their wallets.

    It was just one of the tips Finch, who runs the Be a Responsible Server, or BARS, program, shared Friday afternoon with about two dozen employees of the ritzy downtown restaurant.

    "I don't like to be there after people have made mistakes," she said.

    The talk was timely.

    On Oct. 5, an intoxicated driver employed by a downtown Chapel Hill bar hit a Carrboro woman and her guide dog, breaking the woman's leg and killing her dog, according to police.

    Finch, who was invited by Elaine's management to speak, said drinking on the job is one of the biggest problems in bars.

    "The minute you start drinking, you have to make sure you're not in a [restaurant] uniform," Finch said. "You can't [legally] do any sort of work. You can't walk into the kitchen or the office. You can't go anywhere a customer can't go."

    If the employee leaves the bar or restaurant intoxicated, it's a major violation of North Carolina's Alcohol Beverage Control regulations, she said. The establishment can face a suspension of alcohol sales.

    It's also illegal, Finch said, for an establishment to continue serving customers who are visibly drunk.

    Accepting fake IDs is among the biggest violations, particularly in Chapel Hill bars, Finch said.

    "We know people have fake IDs out there," Finch said. "If it looks credible, we are not going to hold you responsible. However, some of the IDs are really bad, and you are accountable for the bad ones."

    Bret Jennings, Elaine's chef and owner, said he invited Finch to help his employees learn the ABC laws and understand their responsibility to the restaurant.

    "People don't understand that it extends to me, the owner" if the restaurant is found in violation, he said. "They don't understand it can go beyond the scope of just someone getting drunk."

    Contact staff writer Leah Friedman at 932-2002 or

    Tuesday, September 27, 2005

    Grant Could Help Keep Teens Off Drugs

    By MATT DEES, Staff Writer, News & Observer

    CHAPEL HILL -- A local group plans to spend $1 million in resources over the next five years to reduce teenage drinking and drug use in Orange and Chatham counties, after it landed a federal grant last week.

    The Community Backyard, a nonprofit group that works to improve mental health treatment for adolescents, received a $100,000 Drug Free Communities grant from the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

    The grant can be renewed annually for five years, or $500,000, and the group must raise a matching $100,000 each year to get it.

    The Community Backyard already has received cash and in-kind donations, such as experts' volunteer time, to match the first $100,000.


    Congress created the Drug-Free Communities Program in 1997.

    In December 2001, Congress passed and the president signed a five-year extension of the Drug-Free Communities Act, authorizing $399 million through fiscal year 2007.

    The Office of National Drug Control Policy administers the program in conjunction with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

    For more information, see and

    The group was one of 176 new grantees selected from 411 applicants, according to a news release.

    "You have to have demonstrated results," Executive Director Isabel Geffner said.

    "We were inquisitive. We were relentless. And we wrote a ... good grant proposal," she said.

    The money will help enhance the work of The Community Backyard and its partner organization, the Committee for Alcohol- and Drug-Free Teenagers.

    The latter group has gained attention over the past year as it has lobbied police to crack down on underage drinking, a problem group founder Dale Pratt-Wilson calls an epidemic.

    Town hall meetings discussing ways to curb access to and change attitudes about underage drinking will continue in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area and begin in northern Orange County and Chatham County, Geffner said.

    The groups will also start marketing campaigns to discourage young people from using drugs, alcohol or tobacco, and older people from condoning such activities, Pratt-Wilson said. It also plans to reach out to the local Latino and faith communities.

    "We have to change the social norm from 'It's no big deal, everybody does it, I did it,' to 'It's unhealthy, it's unsafe, and it's illegal,' " Pratt-Wilson said.

    Staff writer Matt Dees can be reached at 932-8760 or

    Thursday, August 25, 2005

    Bracing for the Big Weekend

    By JESSICA ROCHA, Staff Writer, The Chapel Hill News

    CHAPEL HILL -- A lone bottle of Rolling Rock perched prophetically on the porch at 309 McDade St. early this week.

    Inside, UNC rising junior Charles McDonald sifted through piles of stuff in his bedroom, while senior Matt Byron graciously gave a reporter the grand tour.

    The five upperclassmen who would be rooming together there were still trying to figure out what would go in the room between the kitchen and the living room.

    "We might make this the beer pong room," said Byron, a 21-year-old history and business major.

    This week, Chapel Hill police and university administrators are expecting the town's population to swell by the thousands as students arrive for fall semester. With them, they're expecting increased drinking, traffic and noise in neighborhoods that remain relatively quiet during the summer months.

    "This weekend's going to be pretty crazy -- everybody comes back," Byron said.

    Living off campus has become a rite of passage for the college set -- there's more freedom than living in the dorms. But as Byron and McDonald organized their living quarters, Chapel Hill police in the community policing division were coordinating a Friday neighborhood outing that is also on its way to becoming tradition.

    For the second year, police and other members of civic and community groups will be knocking on hundreds of doors in neighborhoods surrounding campus on Friday, introducing themselves to students and asking them to think of their neighbors before throwing loud parties that could sprawl onto others' lawns or invade the ear drums of snoozing parents.

    It's called the Good Neighbor Initiative, and it targets students in rental properties with packets of information and coupons from nearby stores.

    "We are going to encourage them to ... pick up trash, look after their own area and report on suspicious activity," said Sgt. Kevin Gunter, who heads the Police Department's community services division.

    Meantime, Chapel Hill police will add patrols on Franklin and Rosemary streets this weekend, also in anticipation of increased traffic and more drinking.

    "What we are really concerned about are the first-year students in town who are here for the first time, and we don't want to see them get hurt or get out of hand," said Capt. Brian Curran.

    This week cardboard boxes, junked sofas and lots and lots of beer and liquor bottles piled up outside homes throughout Northside. Delivery truck drivers unloaded mattresses, and roads and driveways filled with cars with out-of-state tags.

    McDonald arrived from Charlotte Monday to sift through the abandoned remains from a previous tenant stacked up in his room.

    A jumbo inflatable beer bottle and Boston Red Sox flag headed into another pile in the hall. The upholstered rocker eventually had to go. The Panthers helmet facemask was designated to a growing mound on the mattress of things that would stay put.

    McDonald pulled out one of dozens of leftover 2005 basketball championship T-shirts he was selling last year. Another absent roommate named Sean, who the others joked was the "mom" of the group, reportedly made a quilt out of his surplus T-shirts for his girlfriend.

    The goal was to straighten up and organize for the weekend, in case the group wanted to christen the house with its first party of the school year, "depending on what the cops say," Byron said.

    Contact staff writer Jessica Rocha at 932-2008 or

    Friday, July 15, 2005

    Modern Art?

    Dear Coalition Friends,

    No, not a piece of modern art. Yes, our brand new mail box, just installed, replacing the last one which had been repeatedly vandalized ... didn't care much, thou, for the rocking chair as it was sort of on it's last legs anyway ... And, the kids say they ought to be allowed to drink because they know how to act responsibly.

    Working to keep my sense of humor in tact....:)

    Monday, July 11, 2005

    Community Coalition Meeting

    The Committee for Alcohol and Drug Free Teenagers of Chapel Hill and Carrboro invites you to attend its 2nd Coalition Lunch meeting on:

    Thursday, July 21 at 12 noon at Squid's Restaurant

    The purpose of this meeting is to continue the development of effective community-wide strategies aimed at reducing adolescent drinking and drug use and to report-in on the recent activities of the Coalition and it's various sub-committees.

    The overall objectives of the Coalition are to:
      1. Increase community awareness regarding the dangers and legal implications associated with underage substance use

      2. Implement strategies that limit youth access to alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and other drugs

      3. Change community "norms" regarding the acceptability of youth alcohol and drug use

      4. Create environments in which young people can engage in health-promoting activities

      5. Strengthen collaboration and communication between parents, law enforcement, schools, alcohol sales establishments, and other youth advocacies.

    This Coalition involves stakeholders from the Chapel Hill and Carrboro communities, including parents, law enforcement, elected officials, local business, media, school officials, substance abuse professionals, youth advocates, faith and service-based organizations and adolescents. The Coalition is open to the public and new member participation is welcome. Please forward this to others who might be interested in this important work.

    Meeting Location:
    Squid's Restaurant
    1201 15-501 Hwy Bypass,
    Chapel Hill

    A complimentary lunch will be served.
    Please kindly RSVP no later than Monday, July 18 so the food can be properly planned.
    As always, we look forward to your participation.

    Best regards,
    Dale Pratt-Wilson

    Wednesday, June 15, 2005

    Thursday, May 12, 2005

    Youth Advocacy Committee

    Youth Advocacy met this morning and decided that a next step for our committee would be to get some teens involved in helping develop drug/alcohol free social alternatives for kids. The mission of our committee is

    To help kids make healthy choices by:

    • creating mentorship's
    • providing social outlets
    • encouraging parent-kid dialog
    • identifying leadership opportunities
    • offering Christian youth alternatives
    • establishing positive values
    • defining "a good time" without drugs or alcohol

    We would like to get the student government at East and CHHS to support and advertise a meeting regarding this subject before school is out. Tuesday, May 24 or Wednesday, May 25 at lunch would work for our committee. We would need a room, some posters around school and several announcements over the PA. Ginny and Maxecine will make the contacts to set up the focus group.

    Wednesday, May 11, 2005

    Parents must become more vigilant

    Parents must become more vigilant
    Guest column

    Parents of Chapel Hill-Carrboro teens, put on your detective hats and be very wary if you plan to have a teen party or even a few of your teens’ friends at your home. The party season is about to get into full swing with the Chapel Hill High prom on Saturday, followed by graduation and end of school social events.

    The good news is that our police, like those in many other communities around the nation, are taking a strong and more thorough position on teen underage and illegal substance use. They are, as well, holding responsible the parents in whose homes the illegal substance use occurs. It doesn’t matter if the parents don’t know about it, don’t condone it and don’t provide it. Further, if you are not home, you are still legally responsible for what happens on your property.

    The school board, with Stephanie Willis’ leadership as district health coordinator, also has passed a new set of guidelines to make the policies and consequences consistent school to school within the district. Also, there are consequences at school for illegal activity in the community. (See policy on the district Web site at

    The bad news is that community norms change slowly; parental awareness is just beginning. Many of us are slow learners when it comes to handling substance use and teens. My own ability to handle this aspect of parenting was filled with many mistakes and many points of being utterly confused and unsure. I wanted to share what I and others on the CHHS Drug Alcohol Task Force had learned, and thus the inspiration came for writing the booklet, “Parent Power: Preventing Substance Use Before It Starts.” This booklet may be freely distributed, put on any school’s Web site and can be downloaded from the CHHS PTSA Web site (

    More bad news is that in our community it is likely that the teens themselves will be the last to change. Many of our teens are absolutely determined to use many different types of substances before, during and after school as well as during lunch, secretly in their homes and at any party they can find on the weekend. Not only do they sneak vodka into water and fruit drinks right under the watchful eyes of their teachers, but also they are likely to do this and much more at a gathering at your house.

    A 16th birthday party in my neighborhood on April 22 ended with the parents receiving a criminal summons for “contributing to the delinquency of a minor.”

    Hopefully, all the facts will come out after the legal proceedings are over. These were not negligent parents. They are, in fact, very conscientious ones who had clearly and firmly communicated the party rules: “no alcohol, drugs or sex.” They were proactive and did everything within their knowledge base to provide a substance free party.

    It was the first teen party they had hosted. Neither these parents nor many others (still learning the hard way through trial and error) knew that being proactive, firm and clear is not enough. Vigilance by constantly policing inside and out at random, frequent intervals is also evidently necessary. Being distrustful and suspicious seems to help, too.

    At this now-famous party the uninvited guests outside, who were making enough noise for the police to be called, were trespassing as well as drinking and drugging. They were asked by the teen host to leave and were not allowed inside. He did not, however, tell his parents when they checked in on the party.

    Dropping in on parties to which you are not invited and don’t know the host is common for teens who “party chase” in order to use substances and socialize. They will find homes, apartments, a park or the woods where they can use or where there are no adults around, unless they are the “cool” ones who provide or allow it.

    One night out of 365 our community comes together with a whopper of a substance-free celebration for teens, Project Graduation. We need to do something about the other 364 days a year. We need to provide vigilantly supervised places for teens to hang out with fun activities. We need to establish a culture that supports and values teenage substance free entertainment. Slowly, they will want to come and it will become a community norm.

    In the meantime, we need to do something about all the unhealthy factors in American society that put U.S. teens in second place in the world in substance use. What group places first? U.S. college freshmen with an average of 54 gallons of alcohol consumed per person in a year. This is an equally upsetting statistic.

    The most concerning questions are why are U.S. teens so desperate to use and what can we do to stop this epidemic?

    Join with us and help bring change. E-mail and join The Committee for Drug and Alcohol Free Teens, which has expanded to 60 members and five subcommittees. Or, at CHHS, join the CHHS Drug Alcohol Task Force by e-mailing The task force is looking for donations or grant money to run a second printing of “Parent Power” as well as a Spanish translation. For information e-mail

    Lynne Johnston is a member of the CHHS Drug Alcohol Task Force.

    The Facts About Youth & Alcohol

    Click here to view the informational
    ad printed in the Chapel Hill News.

    Tuesday, May 03, 2005

    Coalition Follow-up


    I have returned from NYC where I enjoyed a three-day stay and watching my very talented daughter perform. She is destined for stardom.

    Enough bragging. Thank you all so much for attending Thursday's first Coalition meeting and for all the ideas you generated in sub-committee. I am delighted and humbled to be in the presence of such knowledgeable and hard-working people.

    The majority signed up to work on Committees, outstanding. Some of you didn't because it wasn't appropriate or your involvement has limitations. This is fine, too. We understand those in attendance have varied levels of commitment and appreciate support at whatever level we can get it.

    Isabel and I plan to be intimately involved in each of the sub-committees and one of us, if not both, will attend each meeting. I will be contacting the Committee co-chairs to find out when the next meeting is scheduled and provide them with the list of who's who.

    Two of the Committee's have already scheduled their meetings:

    * Education Committee (chaired by Wanda Boone and Dr Tina LaPage) is set for May 27th at 12:30 pm
    * Youth Advocacy (chaired by Ginny Guilfoile and Maxeine Mitchell) is set for May 12th at 8:30 am

    Click here for a table with all the contact info (and corrections, are there more?) It is divided-up into members of each sub-committee.

    I am deeply grateful for your time and desire to make a difference.