Commissioners hear about Highland County school drug survey


Local individuals involved in the fight against drug abuse on Wednesday updated the Highland County Board of Commissioners on efforts to gauge illicit drug use in Highland County schools, and the board declared Oct. 23-30 Red Ribbon Week in recognition of anti-drug campaigns.

Heather Gibson, president of the Highland County Drug Abuse Coalition and CEO of REACH for Tomorrow, a local nonprofit, said four of the five school districts in Highland County, all but Lynchburg-Clay Local Schools, will participate in a survey of substance abuse, mental health issues, bullying and school safety in October and November.

The information recorded in the survey will then be compiled and given to the drug coalition for review, Gibson said.

According to Gibson, recent reports indicate young peoples’ first exposure to drugs and tobacco occurs when they are 12.5 years old.

Gibson told The Times-Gazette after the meeting that the survey is timely, since it will be conducted after Red Ribbon Week is held in local schools. Red Ribbon Week is observed each year in schools with efforts to increase awareness of the harms of drug abuse.

“We like to do the survey around the same time because it’s fresh in their mind,” Gibson told The Times-Gazette.

Janet Fair of Scioto-Paint Valley Mental Health told the commissioners she will also be conducting drug abuse prevention education at local schools for parents and students in coming weeks.

In other matters, the board heard from Barbara Lanctot and Lela McWhorter about Operation Christmas Child, a program that sends shoeboxes full of gifts and school supplies to needy children in other parts of the world.

Local people can buy toys and school supplies and put them in the shoeboxes, then deliver them to local churches to be distributed from there, Lanctot said.

Operation Christmas Child is a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian international humanitarian aid organization. For more information on OCC and Samaritan’s Purse, visit

The commissioners proclaimed November Operation Christmas Child Month.

The board also heard from Tim Koehl, who is coordinating a parade and events surrounding the upcoming filming of RFD-TV’s “The Best of America by Horseback,” in Bainbridge. The parade, which will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 4, will feature many horses and carriages, as well as flags from Larry “The Flagman” Eckhardt lining the route.

Koehl said Eckhardt has a large 30×50-foot flag that will be unfurled in Bainbridge for the event, and asked the commissioners for help locating a tower or ladder truck to hold it.

In other business, Wilkin said the commissioners recently visited Charles Leach’s property on Panhandle Road to take a look at its topography. Leach came to last week’s commissioners meeting and criticized the board for not taking action soon enough regarding sinkholes there.

Wilkin said the commissioners “attempted to discuss some possible solutions” with Leach, and said the Highland County Engineer’s Office will go out later to do a survey of the land.

Wilkin said he is participating in a fundraising campaign, Real Men Wear Pink, for breast cancer awareness efforts. To contribute, visit

Commissioner Terry Britton said Paint Township Trustee Randy Mustard updated him on an illegal tire disposal problem in the area. Britton said officials are working with the Highland County Sheriff’s Office to find the culprit.

The commissioners also passed routine financial resolutions, and went into executive session with Highland County Prosecuting Attorney Anneka Collins to discuss pending litigation. The board took no action afterward.

Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570, or on Twitter @DavidWrighter.

Commissioner Jeff Duncan and Highland County Board of Commissioners President Shane Wilkin sit in session during a commissioners meeting on Wednesday. Jeff Duncan and Highland County Board of Commissioners President Shane Wilkin sit in session during a commissioners meeting on Wednesday. David Wright | The Times-Gazette
Operation Christmas Child, Bainbridge parade also discussed

By David Wright

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