Sheriff addresses Kiwanis

Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla was welcomed as the guest speaker when the Steubenville Kiwanis Club met Oct. 15 for its weekly noon luncheon and business meeting held at the YWCA of Steubenville.

Introduced by Dave Henderson, program chair for October, Abdalla assured the Kiwanians that his job as sheriff is a 24-hour-a-day job, not 9 to 5.

And it’s a job that blends the good with the bad.

“The best thing I like about this job is being able to help people – that’s the good part of it,” said Abdalla, who has served as sheriff of Jefferson County for 29 years.

“The bad part is the ugly side,” he said, in particular cases involving child abuse, neglect and death.

“These are the most difficult cases – I can handle all the heavy stuff,” he said. “I’m familiar with death being in Vietnam, handling murder cases and suicides and drownings and car accidents, you can handle all that stuff, but when it comes to these little children, that is the most difficult.”

Abdalla touched on several topics, including “the war on drugs,” a battle he said, “We’re never going to win that war.”

He said many youth the department is dealing with today are a reflection of their upbringing.

“If you see their parents, you know why the children are the way they are, and I don’t see anything on the horizon is going to change,” Abdalla said.

“Years ago I would go in schools and ask second- and third-graders, ‘Do you know anyone who does drugs?’ No one knew,” Abdalla said.

Now he says out of 80 pupils, as many as 35 might raise their hands, responding that their father or mother does, or “mommy’s boyfriend” or “grandpa does.”

As long as there’s demand, the supply will be there, according to Abdalla, who expressed surprise with the number of “young kids on prescription drugs.”

In 2011 in Jefferson County, 24 people died of an overdose of prescription drugs – not heroine or cocaine but prescription drugs, Abdalla said. The youngest was 18.

“I have said it before, doctors are too quick to give these prescriptions,” he said.

Scams were another subject Abdalla mentioned, noting that despite warnings to the contrary, people are naive, “fall for that stuff” and are bilked as a result out of thousands of dollars.

One scam to get personal information is a caller claiming new Social Security cards are being mailed and information is being double checked.

Another is a call to a grandparent claiming a grandchild needs money sent to be bonded out of jail but asks that his or her parents not be told about it.

“These scammers are up all night long thinking up scams,” he said.

Abdalla said he wouldn’t comment on “the Steubenville case.”

“It’s back in the limelight again, and we’ve got to endure until this thing’s over with, and I hope it’s soon so Steubenville can get back on track. It’s still a great community, it’s a great county, it’s a great school,” Abdalla said.

In other club news, George Pugh has assumed the duties of president with Mike Emmerling as first vice president, Kris Haught as second vice president and Tom Timmons as secretary-treasurer.

The recent rose sale proved a good fundraiser, according to Timmons, who said approximately 1,200 dozen were sold.

Judy Manfred, club member, was to be today’s speaker, touching on October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month and information on the Women in Action Against Cancer Coalition of Jefferson County.