WHEELING, W.Va. -- The top federal prosecutor in Northern West Virginia said Monday he will travel across the 32 counties in his district in the coming year to educate parents and young people about widespread drug abuse and the ever-changing threat of synthetic drugs.
U.S. Attorney William Ihlenfeld, Ohio County Schools Superintendent Dianna Vargo and others unveiled plans at Wheeling Park High School for a new education program called "Project FUTURE: The Right Prescription for West Virginia."
U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, who recently hosted a forum on the subject, calls drug use "a public health crisis in West Virginia and around the country."
"It hurts our children, our families and our communities," said Rockefeller, D-W.Va.
Other partners in the project include the Ohio County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition and Drug Free Clubs of America. The groups will hold community awareness meetings in the evenings so parents can attend and learn about the warning signs of drug use.
Over the next year, Ihlenfeld said he'll travel to high schools and middle schools throughout the district to speak to young people, bringing along special guests with real-life experience dealing with addiction.
Some of those guests include Phil Bauer, who lost his 18-year-old son to drugs; Philicia Barbieri, a recovering addict and former teacher at the Pittsburgh School for the Creative and Performing Arts whose abuse led to a life of crime; and Wayne Campbell, who lost his 23-year-old son.
Programs at Brooke, Wheeling Park, John Marshall and Magnolia high schools have been scheduled for October and November.
Ihlenfeld said any school that wants to arrange a visit should contact his office in Wheeling.