ROANOKE, W.Va. — The West Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Administration (WVABCA) partnered with Community Connections Inc. and held its second annual “Alcohol Enforcement, Education, and Prevention Conference” at Stonewall Resort on Sept. 26 and 27.

On Sept. 27, a breakfast started the day off between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. PowerPoint presentations were given in a general session following the breakfast. The PowerPoints touched on many topics regarding drugs and alcohol but main focuses were on the “ABCA DUI simulator” and the “West Virginia state police (WVSP) Batmobile.” after the following individuals presented, attendants were released to check out exhibits:

  • Gabriela Monzon-Reynolds – Community Outreach Manager, Montgomery County (Maryland) Alcohol Beverage Services
  • Greg Puckett – Executive Director, Community Communications, Inc.
  • Gary “Gig” Robinson – Education and Public Information, WVABCA
  • Shawn Smith – Licensing and Education Manager, WVABCA

The conference organizer, Dr. Jamie Styons, said that it was nice to bring in experts within’ the field for a certain reason. “We have that one track mind at times, and that’s never a bad thing, but it gives us one perspective on how to approach certain issues. Having other folks that have different expertise coming in and collaborating with us helps us see a lot more than what we’re just seeing ourselves so, we’re not missing as much, by working together.”

Sergeant Joey Loher, who is a WV Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) state coordinator, also works for the Huntington police department and WV Governor’s Highway Safety Program. His session included information on the seven different drug categories which are central nervous system (CNS) depressants, CNS stimulants, hallucinogens, dissociative anesthetics, narcotic analgesics, inhalants and cannabis. He also discussed West Virginia drug trends.

Timbi and Trish Luna (WBOY Image)

The author of the kids book “Timbi Talks About Addiction,” Trish Luna, and Timbi himself, made an appearance at the conference. The book shares Luna’s personal experiences in hopes that it can help other members of the youth who may be struggling through the same things.

A nationally recognized community prevention substance abuse advocate, Officer Jermaine Galloway, also known as “tall cop,” gave a presentation to attendees called “High in Plain Sight: Current alcohol, drug, and concealment trends” before everyone was dismissed for lunch.

The first session back from lunch was a full presentation that talked about working with the governor’s highway safety program Commission on Drunk Driving Prevention (CDDP) was given by Dean Capehart, who is a law enforcement liaison with the governor’s safety program, and trooper first class, Sumner Brody, with the WVSP.

The final presentation before things wrapped up for the day was given by Kim Laube, executive director for Human Understanding and Growth Services, Inc. She talked about the impact of COVID-19 and collective trauma on first responders and the helping fields.

The main purpose of this conference is to have law enforcement, government officials, educators, prevention specialists, and community organizations to gain valuable knowledge from experts in fields related to alcohol and other drugs in West Virginia. Greg Puckett, executive director of community connections, mentioned how he felt this conference would impact those attending, in which he said, “because of COVID, you know, we’ve all been really fragmented, and how we’re delivering messages across the state, and when we know that our common goal is to get our young people and make sure that they’re going to be safe, healthy, uh, and engaged in the communities. That’s what this is doing, it’s really pulling these new sectors together and allowing people to talk, so that we can address it and do it in a positive way.”

The conference ended at 3 p.m. After session evaluations. It will return again in 2023 for its third annual year, where they are hoping to grow even more than this year.