Best You Coalition wants help in youth substance abuse fight

Project director addresses supervisors on retail sales


LEE COUNTY – The county’s Best You Coalition is asking Lee County for help deterring youth access to alcohol, nicotine, and other substances.
Amanda Rogers, project director for the coalition based out of Keokuk, spoke with Supervisors on Monday about obstacles in front of the coalition to keep youth away from illicit substances.
Rogers brought about eight students involved in the program.
She said the group provides two-hour retail training to help businesses identify best practices to reduce student access to nicotine, alcohol, and tobacco products.
“There are 39 merchants in Keokuk alone and there are 115 or more in Lee County (that sell products). That’s a lot,” she said.
She asked if the county questions owners as to what they are selling in their establishments as part of the permits.
Supervisors approve permit applications, but then the applications are forwarded to the state beverage division for final approval.
Supervisor Ron Fedler said it’s tough for the county to decline an application for tobacco or alcohol because of legal ramifications and that’s why it goes to the state for final approval.
“I have never denied an application for tobacco,” Fedler said.
Rogers asked if supervisors ever go into the establishments to see what they are selling. She said she went to almost all of the 39 in Keokuk.
“You’d be surprised to see what they are selling,” she said.
 “After they get approved for nicotine, tobacco, alcohol licenses, it’s almost open-game then for them to sell all kinds of products.”
She said they are selling glass, which are bongs and crack pipes. She said they also sell stash cans, which are cans that look like cans of soda or chips that have secret compartments for hiding drug stashes. They sell incents and scent blocking packets for stash cans that block smell.
“You do not have to be 21 to purchase all of these items. My 10-year-old can go in and purchase a stash can without question,” she said.
“I’m asking you today, and I know the state bears a lot of responsibility, but we can do more as a county to prevent some of this stuff. We want these businesses because we want the revenue, but there is a lot of costs involved with these products. These kids are ruining their futures by making what they think is a good choice that ends up not being one.”
She said county officials should start asking questions of the business owners.
Supervisor Tom Schulz said many of the businesses are within city limits which don’t come to the county, but Rogers said there are some out in the county and she will also be talking with city officials in the county.
Supervisor Garry Seyb, Jr. asked if Rogers was aware of any regulatory authority to stop the sales. She said that was a good question and Rogers said she’s unaware of any, but the county should push the businesses to take advantage of training available and make sure they are IDing purchasers.
Seyb said that’s where the enforcement would need to come from but sharing information like Rogers was is critical to get to parents.
“I think its good that the information you're providing gets to parents so parents can keep an eye on things at home when they see these things start to show up. The can that they don’t want to recycle that’s been on the shelf forever, isn’t a can, it’s a hiding spot,” Seyb said.
Rogers said Best You is holding a focus group Wednesday night at Keokuk’s Hoerner YMCA at 6 p.m.
More information on the coalition and its efforts can be obtained by emailing the coalition at

The Best You Coalition, Lee County, Van Buren, Keokuk, Fort Madison, substance abuse, non-profit, advocacy, Lee County, supervisors, board, Amanda Rogers, news, Pen City Current,


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