White House awards Dallas County group grant to fight drug use

DALLAS COUNTY, AL (WSFA) - Dylan Smith, 17, remembers the offer at a party five months ago, an offer he turned it down.

"Marijuana. I had prepared myself for that moment to say no," said Smith.

But it's rarely that easy for so many people, and that's where Jerria Martin comes in. As part of her big reveal Tuesday at Hope Academy, Martin delivered the news to community leaders, law enforcement and firefighters in an energetic and creative way: Drug Free Communities had received a $150,000 gr ant straight from the White House.

"From the Executive Office of the President of the United States," Martin, the executive director for Drug Free Communities, told a crowded room.

Martin said the money will help with the research and try to prevent the mere thought of getting involved in drugs.

"We train. We bring in the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency. You saw all those members. Those are the folks who work one-on-one with our young people to give them the training," she said.

The latest survey just in Dallas County among pre-teens is troubling, according to Carol Williams.

"We are double the national average here in Selma," said Williams, an evaluator with Drug Free Communities.

Program leaders say the $150,000 gr ant will be spread out over three years. They make no promises this will cure the local drug problem, but it can't hurt.

"The past 17 years it's been instilled in me what drugs can do," Smith said.

Smith, in the meantime, plans to keep doing what he did five months ago: say no, stand tall and walk away.

Dallas County was the only recipient in Alabama to receive the gr ant and only one in 50 in the country.

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