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Closed on all state observed holidays.

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(304) 748-7850


(304) 224-1267


1300 Potomac Ave.

Suite C, Upper Level

Weirton, WV 26062

ASAP in the Community- Hands On!

WEIRTON - Members of a local organization formed to seek solutions to the growing area drug problem heard from representatives of three groups that have been working toward the same goal.

The Community Action Team formed in Hancock and Brooke counties by Advocates for Substance Abuse Prevention heard about efforts by the Jefferson County Community Partners Coalition, Teen Challenge and Never Alone at a recent meeting at the Mary H. Weir Public Library.

Beth Rupert-Warren, who also is executive director of the Jefferson County United Way, said the Community Partners Coalition is a grassroots group comprised of representatives of about 40 churches and social service organizations with committees formed to address a variety of social issues, including opiate addiction.

She said sadly some children are learning to become dependent on illegal drugs from their parents, with drug addiction occurring even in three generations of some families.

Rupert-Warren said the group has used a map depicting various community programs in Steubenville when referring people in need of various help to resources that may assist them.

It's an idea CAT member Paul "Bud" Billiard would like to see pursued in Brooke and Hancock counties.

Rupert-Warren also encouraged everyone to use the 211 toll-free 24-hour hotline to seek information about programs addressing drug addiction and an assortment of other issues. As with 911, the number can be dialed without an area code and has counterpart programs in Ohio and West Virginia as well as much of the U.S.

The Rev. Joe Cuomo, pastor of the Christian Assembly church of Follansbee, discussed Teen Challenge, an international organization that offers a 12- to 18-month residential treatment program aimed at helping men to overcome various forms of addiction.

Cuomo said his church was visited recently by a group of participants from Youngstown who spoke of how it has helped them. He noted it differs from many programs in that it centers around Biblical teachings rather than psychological counseling.

Cuomo said the first Teen Challenge program was formed in New York in 1959 by the Rev. David Wilkerson, who sought to reach out to teens in gangs but it's since evolved into a program for men 18 and older, including some in their 60s.

Patti Barnabei said Christian principles, particularly prayer, also are at the heart of Never Alone, a Weirton-based group she formed in 2010 after a friend of her daughter died as the result of addiction.

Her first effort was a walk to raise awareness of the problem and funds for local programs involved with educating youth about drug abuse and treating people with addiction. But it's since expanded to include a support group that meets at 6:30 p.m. each Wednesday at 149 Preston Ave.

She said the group also plans to award a scholarship next year to a Brooke or Hancock county student whose life has been touched by addiction.

Earlier this year Barnabei was recruited with others by U.S. Attorney William Ihlenfeld II to serve on a regional opiate drug task force.

She said the group includes committees focused on several areas, including education, law enforcement and the medical and mental health fields.

The group also heard from Cathy Stevens, who has organized a neighborhood watch program in the Brooke County community of Hooverson Heights in an effort to curb crimes there.

The group has held three meetings with local law enforcement at the Hooverson Heights Fire Department and its next meeting will be held there at 6 p.m. Dec. 15.

It also has established a Facebook page at Hooverson Heights Neighborhood Watch Awareness.

Follansbee Police Chief John Schwertfeger and Follansbee Patrolman Steve Falbo told attendees community involvement is vital to their efforts to arrest drug dealers. They encouraged residents to report suspicious activity to their local police.

But they also asked the public to be patient, saying it can take up to a year to secure enough evidence to successfully prosecute a dealer.

"When you see us raid a house, you know your information was used," Falbo said.

Billiard said he invited the three to speak to the group because local officials and groups involved in the fight against drugs can benefit from ideas that have worked elsewhere. He added he's invited representatives of a couple of Wheeling groups to speak at the group's January meeting.

Raze Crew Balloon Launch.

Spreading the Word...

Congratulations to the Weirton Parks for going smoke free!

Kids kick butts with RAZE

March 21, 2014
By SHAE DALRYMPLE - Staff writer (sdalrymple@heraldstaronline.comWeirton Daily Times

WEIRTON - On Wednesday and Thursday kids in Weirton took the opportunity to stomp out tobacco use for the second year in a row in honor of National Kick Butts Day.

The local RAZE group spent time with children at the Weirton Christian Center, hosting activities featuring anti-tobacco education throughout the day. Pre-schoolers took turns kicking "Mr. Butt," a shield made to look like a pack of cigarettes.

"Our goal is to show kids what tobacco can do to your lungs and body," said Rachel Serrise, RAZE coordinator.

Article Photos

TAKE THAT — Pre-schooler Damien Eddy, left, winds up to kick “Mr. Butt” in honor of National Kick Butts Day at the Weirton Christian Center. According to Rachel Serrise, right, the annual celebration aims to educate children about the health risks associated with smoking. -- Shae Dalrymple


The event was one of more than 1,400 planned across the nation for Kick Butts Day, an annual celebration of youth activism in the fight against tobacco organized by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. The goal is to educate communities about the tobacco industry's harmful marketing practices, representatives said.

According to the Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health, smoking kills 480,000 people in the U.S. and costs the nation at least $289 billion in health care bills and other economic losses each year.

Without urgent action, statistics show, 47,000 children alive now, in West Virginia alone, will die prematurely from diseases caused by smoking. Currently, 18.6 percent of the state's high school students smoke.

"On the 50th anniversary of the first Surgeon General's report, we need bold action to create a tobacco-free generation and end the tobacco epidemic for good," said Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

For more information, visit Additional information about tobacco, including state-by-state statistics, can be found at

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State senator leads drug talk

April 12, 2014
By WARREN SCOTT - Staff writer (wscott@heraldstaronline.comWeirton Daily Times

WEIRTON - State Sen. Robert "Rocky" Fitzsimmons, D-Wheeling, asked the many attending a meeting Thursday of Advocates for Substance Abuse Prevention for input in dealing with the illegal drug problem and got an earful.

Various officials from Brooke and Hancock counties and municipalities there had different ideas about the root of the problem and how to deal with it but they agreed they need to work together to address it.

Fitzsimmons was invited to speak to representatives of the various agencies affiliated with ASAP at a training program held at the Mary H. Weir Public Library.

Article Photos

State Sen. Robert 'Rocky' Fitzsimmons, D-Wheeling, discussed ideas to curb the illegal drug problem with various officials from Hancock and Brooke counties at a forum arranged by Advocates for Substance Abuse Prevention Thursday at the Mary W. Weir Public Library. -- Warren Scott


Paul "Bud" Billiard, a member of ASAP and the governor's drug abuse prevention task force; also encouraged for county commissioners, mayors, city managers and law enforcement officials from the two counties to attend.

Fitzsimmons said within 72 hours after he was appointed state Senator last year, he was approached by a parent seeking treatment for their drug-addicted child. Fitzsimmons said he contacted treatment facilities throughout the state and found all were filled.

"I shared the helpless feeling of that parent," he said.

Fitzsimmons said since then three people in his age group have died from drug overdoses and he has learned West Virginia has the highest number of drug overdoses among U.S. states.

"I understand this problem is very real. It's something we need to change," he said.

Fitzsimmons said drug addiction affects communities because addicts drop out of the workforce and taxes pay for jails to house addicts who turn to crime to support their habit.

Weirton Police Chief Bruce Marshall said many burglaries and breaking and enterings are drug-related, and Hancock County Sheriff Ralph Fletcher said many of the recent Hancock County grand jury indictments were drug-related.

Fitzsimmons noted the concept of drug courts, where criminal offenders with drug abuse issues are sentenced to treatment and community service as an alternative to jail, has been expanded throughout the state from Brooke County, where it was pioneered by Chief Probation Officer Jim Lee and 1st Judicial Circuit Court Judge Martin Gaughan.

He said two drug-related bills in the recent legislative session failed. One would have required prescriptions for pseudoephedrine, an over the counter drug used for nasal and sinus congestion that also has been used by criminals to produce methamphetamines.

He and Del. Phil Diserio, D-Brooke, who both supported the bill, said they believe it failed because of misinformation circulated about it. They said many residents didn't know it would have allowed them to obtain more tamper-resistent forms of the drug without prescriptions.

The other bill would have allowed offenders convicted of transporting illegal drugs into the state to be sentenced up to 15 years. Fitzsimmons said he didn't know why the bill failed to pass.

Asked about a bill that would have legalized marijuana, Fitzsimmons said it failed to gain traction and never came up for a full house vote.

The state Senator asked attendees to suggest other legislation that could help address the drug problem.

"We (legislators) are not experts in this area. We need your input," he told attendees.

Follansbee City Manager John DeStefano said municipalities lack the funds to build up police departments. He noted state Community-Oriented Policing Services Grants only temporarily support new officers.

Fletcher said grants for prevention and resource officers at schools and other programs are being cut.

"It's a problem that absolutely has to be addressed, but it can't be addressed by just us," said Fletcher, referring to law enforcement agencies.

He said federal officials need to do more to curtail the flow of drugs into the U.S. from other countries.

Brooke County Commissioner Jim Andreozzi said he blames a poor local economy.

"Until we improve this economy, we're going to continue to be part of this deterioration. We could hire 100 officers in Weirton and I still believe we'd have a problem," he said.

Andreozzi said groups such as ASAP can help by educating families about drug abuse.

Norm Schwertfeger, an agent with the Brooke County West Virginia University Extension office, asked if the state has set a cap on the number of patients treatment facilities serve and if that may be raised.

Carole Scheerbaum, a Hancock County WVU Extension agent involved with alcohol abuse prevention efforts, said, "The answer (to the source of the drug problem) is D, all of the above. It's a multifacted problem and that means it needs a multifaceted approach and that's what we're trying to do."

Billiard said the discussion is a move in the right direction. He said he believes more communication is needed between various communities.

Billiard said within about a year 50 young adults died locally from drug overdoses, which saddens him.

"They say you'll never beat it (the drug problem). Well, by God, we can go down swinging," he said.

Schwertfeger said community roundtables once were held to allow local leaders to discuss issues with state officials. He suggested the idea could be revived to discuss the drug problem.

Leaders of ASAP said they will continue to work for drug abuse prevention in various ways. They have ranged from plays at local schools aimed at educating teens and others to drop boxes for people to discard unused prescription drugs that could fall into the wrong hands.

The locked boxes are found at the Hancock and Brooke county courthouses, police departments in Chester, Weirton and Follansbee; as well as several other Northern Panhandle locations.

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School play to address substance abuse

March 15, 2014
From staff reports Weirton Daily Times

WELLSBURG - A local agency has recruited students at Brooke High School to help it spread the word about substance abuse in what they hope will be a light-hearted, nonpreaching manner.

With support from Advocates for Substance Abuse Prevention, the school will present "Sticks and Stones," a one-act play, at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Monday and Tuesday in the school's auditorium.

Tickets are $5, with proceeds going to the Angela Casinelli Scholarship Foundation. Casinelli wasn't involved with drugs but was active in the school's drama program before she graduated last year, shortly after which she died from an embolism.

Nathan Marshall, the school's theater adviser, said the play, which was written by Don Kukla, "treats substance abuse quite seriously, but it also makes sure the audience has plenty of fun along the way. The students will perform several skits full of wisecracks and questions about abusing cigarettes, drugs and guns. There is also a magic remote that can make the actors fast-forward, act in slow-motion and speak in rewind."

Destiny Walsh, who is co-directing the play with fellow Brooke senior Natosha Douglas, said, "Everyone has worked very hard to bring the play together and I hope it is successful, enjoyable and educational."

Affiliated with the Brooke-Hancock Family Resource Network, Advocates for Substance Abuse Prevention is a Weirton-based agency that has attempted to curb substance abuse locally through projects ranging from public forums on illegal drugs to placing locked drop-off boxes for discarded prescription drugs at public places.

Rachael Ferrise, Drug-Free Communities coordinator for ASAP, said, "This is a very exciting time for our coalition and myself. We have the students of our local high school wanting to be a part in providing a helping hand to educate the public on the dangers of substance abuse."

She added, "I would like to express my gratitude to Mr. Nathan Marshall for taking the time to work with us. It would not be possible without him and his students."

"This will be a great opportunity for our students to not only display their talents but to learn something and teach us all something about the negativity of substance abuse," Marshall said.

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Advocate group seeks volunteers

February 27, 2014
Weirton Daily Times 

Advocates for Substance Abuse Prevention is seeking volunteers from Brooke and Hancock counties to help in their substance abuse prevention efforts.

The group meets quarterly on the second Thursday of January, April, July and October.

The Community Action Committee meets on the first Tuesday of each month. The committee works to prevent underage drinking and substance abuse. They also help coordinate compliance checks and provide responsible beverage service training to alcohol and tobacco retailers.

The Data and Resources Committee meets on the First Thursday of each month. This committee searches for additional substance abuse prevention or underage drinking funds, either from grants or foundations. It also helps gather statistical data.

The Direction and Growth Committee meets on the fourth Wednesday of each month. The committee develops mass media campaigns and educates and trains coalition members.

Those interested in becoming involved can call (304) 748-7850 or visit or their Facebook page at

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Jason Rine and Rachael Sperlazza of the Brooke Hancock Family Resource Network gave a presentation to the New Cumberland Lions Club during their recent meeting.


The resource network is involved in building community networks partnerships; providing community assessment planning and development through research and interviews; and developing action plans to address issues.


The resource network works with Juvenile Mediation on their awareness fair, this will take place in September. Look for more updates on our facebook page our on the news. 

Responsible Service Training

TIPS trainings are a part of education in the ASAP Program. Seen below is trainer Carole Scheerbaum and volunteer and member of ASAP is Bud Billiard, and ASAP coordinator Rachael Ferrise.

Seen Left to Right: Rachael Ferrise, DFC Coordinator, Bud Billiard, Volunteer and Member of ASAP, Carole Scheerbaum, TIPS trainer for 11 years

5 Rx Drop Boxes in Brooke and Hancock Counties

We are pleased to announce that we have 5 Prescription Drug Drop Box locations throughout Brooke and Hancock counties. You can now dispose of any unwanted or expired Rx drugs in Chester, New Cumberland, Weirton, Follansbee, and Wellsburg.

You can dispose of your Rx medications at the Chester Police Department, Hancock County Sherriifs Department, Weirton Police Department, Follansbee Police Department, and the Brooke County Sherrifs Department. We would like to thank all of the law enforcement agencies that made these Rx Drop Boxes Possible.


 Here are a few of the locations addresses:

  • The Hancock County Sheriff's Drop Box is located at the Hancock County Court House

102 North Court Street, New Cumberland, WV 26047.

  • The Brooke County Sheriff's RX Drop Box is located in the Brooke County Court House

632 Main Street, Wellsburg, WV 26070.

Kick Butts Day 2014

The Weirton Christian Center & ASAP brought "Kick Butts Day" to the kids & teens of the area. During this time, the Raze Crew presented several commotions and activities designed to demonstrate the dangers of tobacco products.

The Raze Crew

The ASAP Raze Crew was busy at work again! They participated in the Weirton Christmas Parade and created flyers, and Christmas cards with helpful hints and tips on substance abuse.

Our float decorated for the parade!


ASAP and the Brooke County Board of Education teamed up to hold an Illicit Drug Forum. The drug forum was held January 31, 2012 at the Brooke High School. A professional panel was present to hold a question and answer session.


Cathy Coontz, senior substance prevention specialist for the West Virginia Bureau for Behavioral Health Facilities and Jo Anne McNemar, a community support specialist for Community Connections Inc., gave a presentation on bath salts. They also presented their PowerPoint to all the health classes at Brooke High School to educate the youth on the dangers of bath salts.


Bath salts are a synthetic stimulant which are composed of multiple dangerous chemicals. They are sold in powder form in small plastic or foil packages and have multiple names.

“To disguise their purpose, they are sold in colorful packages the size of tea bags with names such as White Dove or Ivory wave and labeled Not for Human Consumption,” said McNemar.


Jason Rine, drug free communities coordinator for ASAP spoke on synthetic marijuana. He discussed the hazards it has caused people and how much it has increased in the last year. Calls to the poison control dealing with synthetic marijuana increased from 2,960 in 2010 to 6,955 in 2011.


James Lee, Chief Probation Officer 1st Circuit Probation Department said, “As a community, we have got to come together, all of us if we are going to stop our kids from dying. We need your help.” With over a hundred attendees ASAP hopes that each guest will share with others the dangers that these illicit drugs can cause a person, their loved ones, and their community.

“This website was developed in part under a Grant Number 1H79SP016623-01 from the Office of National Drug Control Policy and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The views, policies, and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of ONDCP, SAMHSA or HHS.”

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