Substance Abuse Task Force Meeting July 9, 2019

State Rep. Karla Eslinger (in the middle seated) listens to discussions at the Ozark County Substance Abuse Task Force Meeting. She expressed that she will be more than happy to work with the Task Force on an on-going basis in making Ozark County a drug-free community. Others attending the meeting were, clockwise from bottom left: Attorney Linda McKinney, Treatment Court coordinator Jennifer Horn, Ozark County Prosecuting Attorney John Garrabrant, Ozark County Sheriff’s Reserve Deputy Dan Israel, Pastor David Evans, Sheriff’s Deputies Vesa Phelan and Kyle Hannaford, Eslinger, Dr. Masa Kinoshita, Kalen Hoffman, Anita Chappell, Pastor Jeff Dotson and director of CareCenter Ministries and Pastor Blake Atchison. 

State Rep. Karla Eslinger and Will Wheeler, representing U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, were special guests at the July 9 meeting of the Ozark County Substance Abuse Task Force in the Missouri Ozarks Community Health conference room in Gainesville. Eighteen members and two other special guests – Community Partnership of the Ozarks prevention specialist Amber Allen and Blake Atchison, CareCenter Ministries director – attended.

At the meeting, the Task Force voted on and confirmed these officers: pastor David Evans, president; Theodosia pharmacist Dr. Sandra Wade, first vice president; pastor Jeff Dotson, second vice president; Rhonda Suter, Ozark County Health Department administrator, treasurer; and Dr. Masa Kinoshita, Theodosia Family Medical Clinic, secretary. The Task Force by-laws were officially signed by the elected officers at the meeting.

During the Prevention and Education Work Group’s report, Dotson said the Community Youth Fellowship lock-in hosted June 28 by The Fountain Church in Theodosia was a success.  As part of the program, community members Kalen Hoffman and Josh Hardison gave inspiring and powerful testimonies, Dotson said, and vaping educational information was shared by Ozark County Health Department staff. Dotson said he planned to ask Salem Baptist Church if the Task Force could provide a presentation on the dangers of vaping to fourth- through sixth-grade students attending the church’s Vacation Bible School this week. 

In reporting on the Community Outreach group’s recent activities, Dr. Masa presented 12 Task Force concept logo designs; the Task Force will vote to select a logo at the August meeting. The Task Force also plans to meet visitors and offer informational publications about its work in a future project planned for Hootin and Hollarin.  

The guests offered this support and encouragement:

Eslinger told the group she understands that drug addiction is a problem that needs to be addressed as a whole, and she expressed her readiness to work with the Task Force to help Ozark County become a drug-free community. 

Wheeler noted that Senator Blunt continues to serve on the Senate Appropriations Committee, and he also said the state of Missouri is committed to helping Missouri counties that are heavily affected with addiction. As an example, he said, a $10 million equity increase was recently approved for Missouri State University that will lead to further expansion of programs such as nursing on both the Springfield and West Plains campuses. 

Allen told the Task Force that Community Partnership of the Ozarks, which serves 21 counties in southwest Missouri, is one of 10 prevention resource centers in the state. Its mission is to facilitate and promote strong neighborhoods and communities by providing collaboration, programming and resource development, Allen said, adding that Community Partnership provides assistance and access to training on topics such as substance use, effective prevention strategies and mental health promotion. The Task Force has been invited to join Community Partnership in working toward preventing and treating drug addiction.

Atchison said CareCenter Ministries, at 511 S. Main St. in Mountain Home, Arkansas, is a Christ-centered outreach organization founded on the principles of faith-based recovery and treatment. It offers a one-year program at a no-cost residential facility open to both men and women with two phases. Phase 1 lasts nine months, and Phase 2 lasts three months. The program provides individuals with life skills, interpersonal relational skills and proficiency in career-oriented trade skills with opportunities to pursue higher education when applicable while receiving treatment. One of the Carecenter’s ministries is the Men and Ladies of Honor, a mission-oriented program that encourages young men and women across the nation to practice chivalry, modesty, moral excellence and leadership.  Men and Ladies of Honor helps young individuals discontinue or avoid destructive social behaviors as well as relationships that are not life-affirming or positive, Atchison said. For more information about CareCenter Ministries’ programs, call 870-701-5078.

Ozark County Times

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