Drug Free Muskingum to educate at fair


Nick McWilliams

Drug Free Muskingum will be set up under a green and white striped tent throughout the duration of the fair.

By Jessica Johnston, Reporter

The fair has more to offer this year than fun and games. Drug Free Muskingum will represent organizations in the community that help those struggling with addiction and mental or behavioral health.

Every year, the Muskingum County Fair Managers along with other fair managers from across the state attend a networking conference in Columbus. At the conference, in January, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine challenged fair boards to formulate ideas for getting information out to their communities about the drug epidemic.

“(DeWine) said the first place to get information out is in the schools, but he said the second-best place is the fairgrounds,” Dave Kreis, Treasurer of the Muskingum County Fair Board, said.

In an effort to accept the challenge, Kreis called upon Drug Free Muskingum to organize a tent at the fair to promote resources and educate the community about substance issues in the county.

“The collaboration has been amazing, so we’ve all come together,” Monica Batteiger, one of the founders of Drug Free Muskingum, said. “You’re going to see a lot of things working together under one tent and that’s the way we’re going to make this epidemic go away or at least put a dent in it.”

Three women came together to form Drug Free Muskingum in July 2017 in an effort to fight against substance abuse.

“We just decided that we needed to do more in our community to try to off-set the epidemic,” Batteiger said. “We actually were at a recovery event and we just decided that we needed to do more groundwork … be more out in the community.”

The coalition will have a resource tent at the fair to connect anyone struggling with addiction or mental or behavioral health to in-patient and out-patient recovery and support services.

There is not a specific person that the drug coalition is aiming to reach. It is attempting to apply to a whole demographic of people at the fair.

“We always say that everybody knows somebody that’s been impacted by the opioid epidemic,” Batteiger said.

In the past, the Drug Free Coalition has produced resource packets that have been distributed to businesses and community members, organized a Prayer Walk, held meetings and more in Muskingum County during its year-long existence.

“We’re not done yet,” Batteiger said. “We’re going to continue to do things in the community. So, I think that we’re making a lot of leeway in the community.”