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Wed, Oct. 16

Local coalition earns national award

The Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America named MATForce a 2009 Coalition of Excellence for successfully reducing substance abuse through evidence-based strategies and practices and increasing opportunities for addiction treatment.

MATForce, the Yavapai County Substance Abuse Coalition, is one of three coalitions nationwide to receive this award in 2009.

"MATForce and its hundreds of community coalition members are greatly honored by this award. Our hard work has paid off," said Sheila Polk, Yavapai County Attorney and MATForce co-chair. "In two short years, Yavapai County has seen a dramatic decrease in the use, availability and sale of methamphetamine in our communities. This reduction is directly attributable to our countywide focus on reducing methamphetamine and its effects."

In the congratulatory letter, retired Army Maj. Gen. Arthur T. Dean, chief executive officer and chairman of CADCA, said, "The selection of MATForce for this award is an indication of the tremendous efforts put forth by your coalition to address local substance abuse problems. We are very proud of your accomplishments."

CADCA annually selects outstanding coalitions based on a set of 10 measurable objectives in the areas of assessment, capacity building, program implementation and evaluation.

Yavapai County has had an unprecedented drop in methamphetamine offenses, violent crimes committed while under the influence of meth, and property crimes associated with meth, Polk said.

Felony offenses in Yavapai County have decreased by 23 percent between 2007 and 2009 and continue to drop, Polk said. The number of meth and dangerous drug offenses has also dramatically decreased from 798 offenses in 2006 to 424 in 2009, she said.

"It is a good thing when our narcotics cops tell us they no longer see meth on a daily basis," said Doug Bartosh, Cottonwood city manager and MATForce co-chair. "MATForce played a central role in this successful eradication effort."

Polk and Bartosh will accept the award during CADCA's 20th Annual National Leadership Forum in Maryland in February 2010 and tell the 2,500 coalitions there about MATForce's efforts.

MATForce, a non-profit coalition, was founded in 2006, and is a successful public-private partnership that initially focused on the methamphetamine problem in Yavapai County. Since 2006, MATForce has expanded its mission to include all illegal substances, including underage drinking.

CADCA is the nation's leading drug abuse prevention organization, representing more than 5,000 community anti-drug groups. Its mission is to provide technical assistance and training, public policy advocacy, and media strategies to anti-drug groups as well as help with marketing programs, conferences, and special events.

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