Documentary on Local Underage Drinking Premieres Feb. 21

Press Release -- February 11th, 2011

It’s a No-Brainer, a documentary about underage alcohol use among local youth, premieres 7 p.m. Feb. 21 at Court Square Theater in Harrisonburg. Refreshments will be served, and a discussion will follow.

The documentary explores the danger that alcohol poses to adolescent brain development, noted Brian Kelley, PhD, department chair of psychology at Bridgewater College. Dr. Kelley served as project adviser.

“Early exposure to alcohol and abused drugs have the capacity to cause widespread alterations in brain development, placing youth at increased risk for a lifetime of problems with alcohol use and abuse,” Dr. Kelley said.

The film, written, directed and produced by the Strong Families/Great Youth Coalition in collaboration with WHSV TV, involves nearly 50 local youth and adults addressing the public health issue of underage drinking in our community.

“The 2009 Harrisonburg and Rockingham Youth Data Survey indicate the average age of onset for alcohol use in our area is 13.4 years,” said Tonya Osinkoksy, health education awareness coordinator, RMH Community Health, and project director of the Strong Families/Great Youth Coalition. “Additionally, nearly a quarter of all adolescents ages 12-18 in our local area have consumed alcohol in the past 30 days.”

The documentary is funded by a federal grant from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention through the Virginia Department of Alcohol Beverage Control. The premiere is made possible through a grant from the Arts Council of the Valley, a donation from Eagle Distributing and catering by Cathy Stewart.

The event is free and open to the public.


2 Responses to “Documentary on Local Underage Drinking Premieres Feb. 21”

  1. betty says:

    Underage drinking operation questioned

    By Lindsay Suchow
    Hudson-Catskill Newspapers
    Friday, February 11, 2011 2:10 AM EST
    At the informal meeting of the Common Council Monday night, a resolution that was to appear before the aldermen for consideration wound up being put on hold due to a need for further consideration as to its benefit.

    The resolution called for approval of additional funding from Catholic Charities to the Hudson Police Department for the enforcement of underage drinking laws.

    “I have some more questions about this,” said Common Council President Don Moore. “I would like the (police) department to elaborate as to why this program is valuable to their enforcement efforts and to the city.”

    Back in December, eight different Hudson establishments that serve alcohol allegedly provided an undercover — and underage — patron with beer. There were nine bars and restaurants that were checked that night, with only one passing the test, authorities said. Eight restaurant workers were charged with first-degree unlawfully dealing with a child, a misdemeanor, and prohibited sale of alcohol.

    At the Common Council police committee meeting Jan. 24, Chief Ellis Richardson presented a resolution which would authorize another $4,100 from Catholic Charities to implement underage drinking law enforcement; the money would be used to “pay overtime salary” for the officers working to enforce the laws, Richardson said.

    According to a press release announcing Catholic Charities being awarded continued funding from the state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services via an Enforcing Underage Drinking Laws (EUDL) grant, a major component of the initiative is “to offer free TIPS (Training for Intervention Procedures) training for consumers, retailers, restaurant, and bar owners/employees who serve alcohol. TIPS trains servers, sellers and consumers of alcohol on how to prevent intoxication, drunk driving, and underage drinking.”

    Additionally, a portion of the grant budget “is required to be used to aid in the enforcement of underage drinking laws. The Columbia County Sheriff and the Hudson City Police departments have accepted responsibility for planning and conducting increased patrol activities for police enforcement details, in some cases resulting in overtime pay for officers funded by the EUDL grant.”

    Mark Young, co-owner of Mexican Radio restaurant on Warren Street, appeared at the meeting to protest what he asserted was the alleged masking of an underage drinking sting operation as an opportunity to educate Hudson bartenders.

    “TIPS is not a state program,” said Young. “TIPS is a nationally accredited program for bartenders to recognize drunk people … Almost all our servers have gone through this program.”

    The sting operation, however “is completely different,” said Young.

    “I certainly have no problem with a TIPS program — it keeps you sharp,” said Young. “It’s also a good way to learn to tell someone you’re not going to serve them, but in a nice way. We usually pay for it … A sting, on the other hand, is punitive.”

    Mexican Radio was one of the restaurants nabbed in December’s sting. Young said his server was busy and distracted, and “made a mistake” by miscalculating the undercover patron’s age on his identification.

    “We’ve never had this violation,” said Young. “This is a way for the state to raise taxes.”

    Young explained that former New York Gov. David Paterson raised the fine schedule for selling alcohol to minors to $2,000 on the first violation. Before this, “the first time you’d be let off with a warning.”

    “I don’t think any of the establishments caught (in the sting) would have a problem with education,” said Young. “But in really tough times, (the sting) is an added burden and a disguised tax.”

    Hudson City Democrats Chair Victor Mendolia also echoed that a major component of the grant was to offer education to establishments with liquor licenses, but that the facilitators of the grant “put the cart before the horse. Training was not offered, and that’s a serious problem,” especially for “the legitimate operating businesses in town.”

    It would be one thing if there were repeated complaints about underage drinking in Hudson bars, Mendolia said, but “I don’t see evidence of underage drinking in any of these establishments.”

    Alderman Chris Wagoner, D-Hudson3, who also chairs the city’s police committee, said he had his own reservations about authorizing another sting by way of the Catholic Charities grant.

    “I’m surprised we’re getting another one,” said Wagoner. “The last one was a fiasco.”

    Wagoner and Moore said the issue would be further discussed at the next police committee meeting, which takes place Feb. 28.

  2. Tom Alciere says:

    Always remember that the politicians whom Mr. and Mrs. Twenty voted against, never had any right to employ gun-toting goons in bulletproof vests as weapons of unprovoked violence, to intimidate Mr. and Mrs. Twenty into giving up their right to drink the beverage of their choice, a right of inestimable value to them and formidable to tyrants only, an inherent natural right which no government can justly infringe. In a free country, the citizen would freely decide what do drink: water, wine or turpentine.

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