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Collaboration aims to reduce high-risk drinking

The collaboration began in spring 2013 and works to reduce the negative effects of high-risk drinking in Chapel Hill neighborhoods, downtown and the University.

The collaboration includes the town of Chapel Hill, the Orange County Health Department, UNC and the Orange County ABC Commission.

The Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership will employ the director and provide office space for him or her.

“The position we all agreed to fund was in response to work done and a report issued by the Town and Gown Task Force to reduce alcohol misuse,” Colleen Bridger, director of the Orange County Health Department, said.

“The project will go into effect as soon as we hire the project manager,” she said.

Barbara Alvarez Martin, leader of the Town/Gown Advisory Board, said she hopes to have the project manager position filled by the end of the 2015-16 school year.

Each entity will put forward $30,000 annually to pay for the salary of the coalition director as well as the costs of the project.

The total budget for the town/gown collaborative is $120,000 per year.

This money will go primarily toward the director’s salary, benefits and equipment.

“As the director of the coalition, they would lead the coalition and implement the work the coalition wants done to address drinking and high-risk drinking,” Meg McGurk, executive director of Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership, said.

The director will work to initiate activities, educational opportunities and training sessions for members of the coalition, the memorandum states.

Qualifications for this position include a master’s degree in the social sciences, student development, public health, health education or a related field.

Additionally, they must have at least five years of leadership experience in public health.

“Hopefully this will make a big impact in our community,” said Lisa Stuckey, chairperson of the Orange County ABC Commission, at the previous Board of Commissioners meeting on Feb. 2.

At this meeting, the ABC Commission presented to the board an update on the collaboration.

Bridger said while the project is primarily focused on the Chapel Hill area, she hopes it can be applied to Orange County as a whole.

Alvarez Martin said UNC has been involved in the project from the beginning.

“I would say the goal of UNC’s project is to reduce the negative impacts of high-risk drinking through the implementation of a comprehensive set of evidenced-based and promising environmental strategies,” Alvarez Martin said.


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