Hoquiam coalition hopes to combat teen drinking, delinquency

Hoquiam residents received something extra in their most recent garbage bill: a survey to gauge adults’ perceptions of teen drinking in the community. The survey is just the beginning of a state-funded program in Hoquiam aimed at decreasing teen drinking and delinquency.

The survey is only the first step, said Wilma Weber of the Grays Harbor County Public Health and Social Services Department. The data gathered will guide a coalition of community members — called My TOWN, an acronym that stands for “transforming our wellness now” — in creating a plan to combat the problems.

The coalition is chaired by Hoquiam High School Principal Brock Maxfield and Kurtis Dawsom, CEO of the Grays Harbor YMCA. “The YMCA is very involved, and so is the school district,” Weber said. “We’ve already installed a student assistance professional at the high school to do drug education, and that seems to be making a difference.”

The coalition already has access to data from students, but Weber said parents’ perceptions are just as important. And while the survey is geared toward Hoquiam adults, people from other towns are welcome to contribute.

“Perceptions are probably going to be the same in Hoquiam, Elma, Montesano and Aberdeen,” Weber said. “It doesn’t change at Myrtle Street.”

The state has already contributed $40,000 to the project to fund the survey and the coalition, and Weber said they’ll be eligible for more once they have a plan in place. Weber said she hopes the group will start taking action in July or August of next year.

Hoquiam received funding after being identified as a “high-need community” within Grays Harbor County.

Paper copies of the survey can be found in Hometown Sanitation bills this month. Surveys can also be completed online at www.surveymonkey.com/s/hoquiam_coalition for English and www.surveymonkey.com/s/hoquiam_coalition_spanish for Spanish.

For more information about the coalition or the survey, contact Wilma Weber at 360-500-4069 or Kurtis Dawson at 360-537-9622, ext. 111.