On Sept. 14, 2016, the formation of the Cambria County Drug Coalition was announced as an effort to combat illegal drug use and alcohol abuse in our area. The Coalition will work to reduce and ultimately eliminate overdose deaths, reduce illegal drug use, expand prevention efforts, address treatment options for those who are addicted, and reduce crime.
“There are already several entities working on the problem of drug abuse in our region,” said Kelly Callihan, district attorney for Cambria County. “The Coalition will allow us to coordinate and expand their efforts as we work to address this growing problem through prevention, law enforcement and treatment.”
The Coalition was created after the 1889 Foundation and the United Way of the Laurel Highlands coordinated several meetings to lay the groundwork for a collaborative working relationship among several organizations within the county. Stakeholders involved in the meetings included Kelly Callihan, district attorney; John Moryken, vice president for business development and government affairs for Conemaugh Health System ; Tom Chernisky, president commissioner; the Johnstown Chief of Police; Susan Mann, president of the 1889 Foundation; and Bill McKinney, president of the United Way of the Laurel Highlands.
Input was sought from Pamela Tokar-Ickes, former president commissioner of Somerset County, and Travis Hutzell, former human service coordinator for Somerset County, to gain insight into Somerset County’s experience with Drug Free Communities, a similar coalition.