A Town Hall Meeting on underage drinking will be held this evening at the Grantsville Volunteer Fire Department, starting at 6:30 p.m.

Calhoun will join nearly 20 West Virginia communities that are joining hundreds of communities nationwide, by holding a Town Hall Meetings about underage drinking.

Underage drinking is an important community concern in Calhoun, according to Shari Johnson, one of the coordinators.

US Surgeon General Richard Carmona recently said underage drinking in America has reached epidemic proportions.

"Since underage drinking is a critical health and safety issue, it is important for everyone to get involved," said Johnson.

The meetings are part of a national effort to provide opportunities for communities to learn more about new research on the issue and to discuss how their community can best prevent and stop underage alcohol use.

The forum is sponsored by the Calhoun Middle-High School "Heads-Up" program and the Calhoun Middle-High School Youth Force.

The informative meeting will share information with the community on local problems with underage consumption of alcohol, and offer suggestions on how the community can combat it.

If you plan on attending this meeting or would like more information please call Shari Johnson at her office at 354-6698.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that by the time children in this country reach eighth grade, nearly 50% of them say they have had at least one drink and 20% say they have been drunk.

SAMSHA also found that those who drink before age 15 are five times more likely to grow up to be dependent on alcohol.

It impacts everyone, not just youth and parents, but also law enforcement, retail sales clerks and owners, government officials, churches, and hospitals to name a few.

Since underage drinking is a critical health and safety issue, it is important for everyone to get involved.

Please attend an event in Calhoun, Ohio, Grant, Braxton, Fayette, Pocahontas, or Gilmer county. Drug Free Communities in Randolph, Jefferson, Mercer, and McDowell will also be holding Town Hall Meetings.

The WV Governor's Highway Safety Program is providing additional resources for town hall meetings in Kanawha, Cabell, Wood, Raleigh, Monongalia, Berkeley, Marion, Harrison, Putnam, and Wayne counties, for communities to get involved.

Underage Drinking Prevention Specialist, Kelli Jo McNemar said, "communities need to start talking about the research SAMSHA is doing which shows underage drinking is killing more young people than all illegal drugs combined.

An Ad Council message says, "We've got to start talking with our children before they start drinking."

Like more information? See www.stopalcoholabuse.gov or call Kelli Jo McNemar at (304) 746-2077 extension 25

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