In addressing the Beckley Rotary Club Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) commended community service groups and emphasized their unique role in molding and shaping the moral values of West Virginia youth.
"With our own schedules, time and timing things right are more precious assets than ever before. As parents, even grandparents, life today places so many demands on our families. This, at a time when there is a great need for the very things Rotary and community service groups strive to achieve: community building, better understanding and caring for the needs of those less well off, and, of course, of our young," said Rahall.
Rahall emphasized the importance of growing the economy and creating well paying jobs for future generations of West Virginians, noting that tough economic times can lead to crime, drugs, and violence.
"Attracting new businesses and growing the economy to create well paying jobs for our youth, so that they can stay in West Virginia and close to home, must be our priority. We ought not to ignore a tried and true formula that in the modern economy has worked. I am talking an old - fashioned public works bill to finish stalled projects, innovative new ones, and shore up the infrastructure that is crumbling before the Nation's eyes," said Rahall.
Rahall, who recently introduced legislation aimed at combating prescription drug abuse, talked about the dangers and violence that prey on youth, and his own efforts to combat them. He noted that the country's Drug Czar, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Gil Kerlikowske, is visiting West Virginia on Thursday, at his request, to help law enforcement and community officials in addressing the prescription pill epidemic.
"So much of our local violence is directly tied to the rampant epidemic of prescription drug abuse we face every minute of every day. And having the Director's personal attention is a big deal when we ask for more assistance for our State to help us fight this epidemic," said Rahall. "We also must strike a better balance in getting mental health services to those who need help the most, and engage law enforcement as partners in the pursuit of mental health before heinous crimes are committed."
Rahall's speech to the Beckley Rotarian Club leads up to the roundtable discussion on prescription drug abuse he is organizing at Marshall University on Thursday, which will include Kerlikowske and state and local officials.