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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Local help sought to impact alcohol misuse

Friday, October 12, 2012

Alan Fredericksen
Underage drinking and adult binge drinking in Plymouth County aren't problems that can be solved in a few years.

That's why Alan Fredericksen's main focus as the new coordinator for a grant to deal with those two issues is simple: sustainability.

Plymouth County is in the last third of a five-year grant that is bringing a total of $250,000 into the county to fight underage and binge drinking.

The county was targeted after it was found to be among the top fourth of Iowa's counties for binge drinking and underage drinking.

"We're trying to impact and reduce those numbers," Fredericksen said.

Fredericksen only has about 18 months to work with people in Plymouth County to have an impact.

He's stepping into the position held by Andrew Dutler for the past 1 1/2 years.

Dutler has begun a new position with Jackson Recovery Centers, the agency administering the $250,000 grant to Plymouth County.

"Andrew laid some groundwork, building relationships within the community, but I'm really coming in right at the time where we're really trying to implement a lot of the strategies," Fredericksen said.

With the short timetable in mind, to make a sustainable impact on underage and binge drinking, Fredericksen said he will depend on the people of Plymouth County.

"Some of our initiatives may not get the end results I or the state may like to get to in the next 1 1/2 years, and we really want to create a group of people who can carry that mission on to continue to reduce those numbers," Fredericksen said.

He's organizing a focused coalition of people passionate about tackling these issues.

That coalition will work on four initiatives in the county, Fredericksen said.

* Creating alcohol-related policies at community events

* Impacting school alcohol policies

* Encouraging and motivating businesses which sell alcohol to have their employees go through a training program regarding selling and serving alcohol

* Presenting an advertising campaign aimed at reducing binge drinking and underage drinking

Some of these initiatives, including the advertising campaigns, have already started, and others will begin soon.

Fredericksen is looking for people interested in joining the coalition.

So far, he's had several students and a few school administrators tell him they want to be part of the efforts.

"I really want to put the call out for anyone throughout the county who might be passionate about this topic of underage drinking and binge drinking and reducing those numbers," he said.

He invited everyone from students to parents, even parents with young children, to be a part of the effort.

Fredericksen said that, although Le Mars is the largest community in Plymouth County, he'll also be doing work in all of the outlying cities, from Akron to Kingsley.

For more information or to volunteer to serve on the coalition, call Fredericksen at 712-234-2377 or email him at AFredericksen@jacksonrecovery.com.

The coalition will likely meet soon, he said.

"The more people we get involved in this, the more we can accomplish," Fredericksen said.

People involved in the coalition may help by reaching out to school officials or community event coordinators to help influence policy decisions, or it may involve encouraging businesses with liquor licenses to have employees take a responsible alcohol selling training.

The anti-underage and adult binge drinking grant channels about $77,000 each year into Plymouth County, according to Fredericksen.

That means about $116,000 is left for the final 1 1/2 years.

The federal government allocated the grant to Jackson Recovery Centers to administrate.

Fredericksen is a Jackson employee.

"Our overall goal at Jackson is an addiction-free Siouxland," he said. "One of our chief goals is to de-stigmatize addiction. It affects people of all socio-economic statuses, all races, all ethnicities, all genders."

Jackson employees are also coordinating similar alcohol-related grants in Woodbury and Monona counties.

Fredericksen, an Iowa native, first came to the northwest corner of the state while working for Old Navy clothing stores.

He acted as general manager of the Sioux City Old Navy for several years. Fredericksen made a career change and began working with the Boys and Girls Home.

He had volunteered for many years with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.

"The things I love about that type of human service work is it allows me to connect with people in a much deeper way than finding their size of jeans or doing markdowns and sales," he said.

Fredericksen's work at the Boys and Girls Home took him to Fairbanks, Alaska, in 2008, where the organization opened a facility.

He also earned his master's degree in Alaska and has taught college classes there and in Sioux City, where he took the grant coordinator position with Jackson.

He said his work allows him to connect with people and communities in a more meaningful way.

"So when I go home at night, I can look in the mirror and feel really good about what I did that day," he said.

Fredericksen said he remembers the pressures and decision making surrounding alcohol growing up in Iowa.

"I am passionate about creating a world where we both support youth in their various stages of exploration and at the same time protect them from some of the ills they aren't necessarily ready to face," he said.

Fredericksen said he looks forward to meeting more people across Plymouth County and is thankful for the reception he's received so far.

"People have met me with open arms and have been really willing to engage in conversations," he said.

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