If you're a loyal reader of The TIMES NEWS, you know, by reading the daily police log and court stories, that approximately 75 percent (a safe estimate) of the crimes and violations committed in this area are either drug or alcohol related. Whether it's a DUI, a domestic disturbance, an altercation, or a burglary or robbery, drugs and alcohol often play a strong role.

If it weren't for alcohol-drug related crimes, Carbon County wouldn't need three judges. The court docket would be a lot shorter. The TIMES NEWS police log would take up a lot less space in the newspaper.

For 18 years, an annual DARE Challenge has been held in Tamaqua for fifth grade students. It is a program that is repeated in many area schools. And it is an important undertaking.

It's a fun day for the students, parents, teachers and police officers who take part in the program. It's fun, but it sends home a strong message – illegal drugs are not needed in anyone's life. You can have fun without them.

DARE stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education. It provides a positive interaction between children, professionals and the community. But unfortunately, the undertaking is in trouble.

Like many worthwhile programs, DARE has lost its state funding. If the program is to continue, the local organizations are going to have to scrape up the money themselves.

What the cuts mean is the DARE Steering Committee must become is own financial backers. If the important program is to continue, they must subsidize it themselves.

We all should be aware that a strong drug culture in a community lowers the quality of life in that town. Crime rates climb, our streets and roadways aren't safe. Our police departments become overtaxed. In addition, many young people ruin their lives.

Programs such as DARE must depend on the generosity of the public in order to continue trying to positively impact the younger generation.

We encourage local businesses and community groups to not turn their backs on this program when DARE comes asking for help. Don't think of your donation as a contribution, more as an investment in the community's future. The fewer kids on drugs, the fewer problems the community will encounter. Everyone's quality of life will be better.

If you haven't already been contacted, and you feel as strongly as the DARE supporters do, then pick up your phone and dial (570) 668-5000 and ask how you can help. It might be one of the most rewarding calls you'll ever make.

Bob Urban

rurban@tnonline.com [1]