It wasn’t the quantity but the quality of people who attended the meeting. That was the assessment of Jaclyn Shaw, vice president of the newly-formed St. Mary’s County Community Alcohol Coalition (CAC) on their first community meeting Tuesday night. About two-dozen people attended the meeting in the County Commissioners’ Meeting Room, but as Shaw pointed out they represented a broad spectrum of the community.
The CAC has a multi-year grant from the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Administration.to reduce the number of youth, ages 12-20, reporting alcohol use and the number of young persons, ages 18-25, reporting binge drinking.
Shaw, who is also grants coordinator for MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital, reported at the meeting that 21 percent of St. Mary’s County adults binge drink, which is higher than the state or U.S. rate. She said that shows a history of drinking problems that can filter down to young people.
Deputy James Stone, the liquor board’s enforcement officer, and Assistant State’s Attorney Joseph Stanalonis, spoke at the meeting. Stone talked about the easy internet access for fake ID’s and passed around some of the fake driver’s licenses. He said the Maryland license had security features that also could be counterfeited. “Ninety-nine percent of law enforcement have a difficulty telling the difference,” he said. He said the fake ID’s are not only used to purchase alcohol, but as prescription drugs.
“Everything I have seen in laws enforcement shows the devastating effects on Kids,” Deputy Stone said about underage drinking. Stanalonis underscored one of those effects in our military community – the inability to get a security clearance and thus a job on base. Stanalonis, who is a circuit court judge candidate, started his career in juvenile court and now oversees that division in the state’s attorney’s office.
Stanalonis also supervises the Juvenile Drug Court. He said it takes a court sentence for someone to be able to take advantage of that program. But in response to a question, he said parents of children suspected of underage drinking can seek assistance from the Department of Juvenile Services.
Stanalonis added, “Sometimes you need to call a deputy,” and use tough love on children. “You may be saving them from something down the road,” he said.
Gary Lynch, chief operating officer of Walden Behavioral Health, said his agency could offer regular sessions for persons not within the court system.
Gary Rogow, owner of ABC Liquors, was asked to speak by Dep. Stone. Rogow said his business has taken advantage of the training offered by the liquor board. That training, he said, he