Recently I had a casual conversation with the owner of a commercial building in the historic district that I previously owned. He commented that Valley Prevention Services, a longtime tenant was moving out and essentially going out of business. When I inquired as to why, he only knew that they lost funding. I thought that was odd because despite economic hardships in the past Valley Prevention Services had been providing drug and alcohol educational services for Lycoming County far longer than I can remember.
As their former landlord, I took a personal interest in how they operated and what services they provided. They were a nonprofit organization and received funding from United Way as well as grants from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for providing drug and alcohol educational services to our schools. Obtaining a grant was never a problem because of their reputation.
I also knew that at least 40 percent of their funding came from mandated sentencing of DUI offenders who were required to undergo drug and alcohol education. The cost of that education was the responsibility of the offender and not taxpayer dollars. So, each week when the Sun- Gazette reported the vast numbers of DUI offenders sentenced I realized their classes would be full on a regular basis. I also remember that the judges of Lycoming County were responsible to oversee that these services were provided.
Are DUI offenders no longer required to participate in drug and alcohol prevention? Is somebody else providing the services and if so, who will take over providing drug and alcohol education and prevention services to our elementary schools? I know they provided services as far away as Liberty Curtain Elementary school in Beech Creek where my granddaughters are students. Does the loss of this nonprofit organization infer that we will spend more money on treatment rather than prevention?
The Sun-Gazette has done an admirable job reporting about the drug problem in our community. I hope that they also would investigate and report why our community is losing a valuable service provided by Valley Prevention Services, as well as several employees becoming unemployed. Realizing that Valley Prevention Services were always requested to provide the mandated services during the tenure of Judges Smith and Brown who have since retired, I certainly hope that our current respected judicial system in Lycoming County is not trying to emulate that of Luzerne County.
Submitted by Virtual Newsroom