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Twenty-Six Communities Awarded Seed Grants to Battle Substance Abuse in Appalachia

March 2006


JOHNSON CITY, TENNESSEE, March 23, 2006--Seed grants to help communities battle abuse of methamphetamine and other substances were awarded to teams from 26 communities in six Appalachian states following the successful completion of an innovative training conference at East Tennessee State University (ETSU) today. A total of $161,300 was awarded by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and the Office of Rural Health Policy to the ETSU College of Public and Allied Health for the conference and the seed grants.

Presentation of the funds capped the three-day conference, which provided the teams with the knowledge and tools needed to develop action plans to effectively fight substance abuse and its symptoms in their communities. The resulting community action plans were presented at the conference's final plenary session. Each team will now return to its community with a comprehensive strategy and seed money to help it acquire additional resources needed to implement the plan. ETSU will administer the seed grants.

Teams were made up of law-enforcement officers, health-care professionals, educators, students, elected officials, and religious and other civic leaders. The training emphasized the need to set, monitor, and report on measurable goals to help generate additional federal, state, and community support for the plans.

Tennessee senator Bill Frist said, "As I have seen firsthand when traveling across the state, meth abuse and other substance abuse has devastated countless families and communities in Tennessee. I have worked hard to combat the meth crisis and recently secured passage of legislation that establishes minimum federal standards restricting access to the drug's ingredients. This legislation marks important progress, but we must remain vigilant in our battle against meth. I appreciate the Appalachian Regional Commission's dedication to the people of this region and its continued efforts to combat this dangerous drug epidemic."

"Substance abuse presents serious challenges for communities across Tennessee," said Senator Lamar Alexander. "Our state has been plagued by a growing number of meth labs that can be located just about anywhere. I'm grateful for the contribution made by the Appalachian Regional Commission to help bring law enforcement officials together with other community leaders to combat the spread of meth and other destructive drugs."

"The Appalachian Regional Commission is once again at the forefront of addressing critical issues in our region," stated Tennessee congressman William Jenkins. "There is no question about the tolls taken on so many families in this area as a result of substance abuse. There are a multitude of reasons for the increasing number of substance-abuse problems. Rather than a one-size-fits-all solution, this plan encourages the right approach: using local ideas and local assets to combat the problem. I appreciate ARC's willingness to address this issue head-on and look forward to working with everyone involved to make progress on this issue."

"Methamphetamine and other substance abuse is on the rise in Appalachia," said ARC Federal Co-Chair Anne B. Pope. "This problem squanders the resources of every segment of our communities. There are many causes, and it is not limited by geographic boundaries, economic status, or educational attainment. But by working together, we now have a plan for the battle."

"I hope that a year from now we can look back and say that today was the day we turned the corner on substance abuse in these communities. ARC's Health Policy Advisory Council and many others have been examining the problem over the last year, and they have come up with a new way to approach the drug abuse in rural communities," Pope said.

Funding for the conference and seed grants was also provided by ETSU's Appalachian Center for Translational Research and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. ETSU, the Coalition on Appalachian Substance Abuse Policy, and ARC's Health Policy Advisory Council developed the team approach that emphasizes local solutions based on local assets and commitment to meet the unique challenges faced by each community.

Communities Awarded Seed Grants


Ashland, Barbourville, Cumberland, Irvine, London, Prestonsburg, Salyersville, Whitesburg

South Carolina

Cookeville, Johnson City, LaFollette, Madisonville, Morristown, Mountain City, Sneedville

Big Stone Gap, Galax, Lebanon, Marion, Bland

West Virginia
Clay, Grantsville, Harrisville, Scarboro