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Island County MADD calls it quits

"After 10 years of active involvement in the community, the Island County Mothers Against Drunk Driving chapter closed its doors last week.Although it still had a membership of approximately 83 people, the organization could not find members with the necessary time for leadership positions.We really struggled this past year and tried hard to keep it a going concern, but just could not get enough people involved in a leadership capacity, said Pat Horn, past vice president and Oak Harbor police officer.The chapter was one of over 400 nationwide and one of the most active in the state, according to Horn. Island County MADD was started in 1990 by Carmen Andre of Oak Harbor after her husband and a passenger were nearly killed when struck by a drunk driver near Sharpe's Corner. During its 10-year run, MADD had a strong presence in the community. The organization annually donated two memorial scholarships in memory of local students killed in DUI crashes. Mark Engle, a freshman at South Whidbey High School in 1991, and Chrissy Priest, who died less than a week after graduation from Oak Harbor High School in 1995, were both struck by drunk drivers.MADD provided public awareness presentations at local middle and high schools, businesses, organizations, military commands and health fairs. The group also provided a trained victim advocate for those who requested guidance after being involved in a DUI crash.In addition to direct assistance for victims, MADD donated an in-car surveillance camera and several portable breath testers to local law enforcement agencies. These donations were made possible partially by business and service organization gifts and grants. We would like to thank the many businesses and organizations that lent support to our chapter through the years, Horn said. MADD was also very involved in several local alcohol-related controversies. In 1997, members gathered strong community support that culminated in a reversal of an ordinance that would have permitted alcohol sales and consumption in city parks. In 1995, the chapter challenged a Whidbey Island Naval Air Station proposal to lower the drinking age for NAS Whidbey sailors to 19. The proposal was started in hopes of preventing DUI accidents involving sailors returning from Canada by encouraging them to stay on the base. But the plan was met with strong opposition from MADD, and the proposal was rejected. In April 1996, the Navy declared that all U.S. bases must abide by the national drinking age of 21.Island County resident who wish to continue their involvement with MADD are encouraged to join the Skagit County chapter. For more information, call Cathy Thein at (360) 856-5700, extension 206. "

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