Members of a pilot project that began in 2012 in Aroostook County met at the Caribou Courthouse Thursday to discuss the project's completion.

Community Voices

In September 2011, the Federal Government awarded four counties across the US with the 'Underage Drinking, Adult Consequences' project. Aroostook County's Community Voices, a group dedicated to reducing underage access to alcohol, was awarded $328,000, to take part in the project.

The first phase of the project surveyed students and parents to gather their thoughts on underage drinking. The Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey, sent to seven Aroostook County high schools, three institutions of higher education and parents, reported 66% of Aroostook teens believed alcohol was easy to obtain in the County, 85% believed a young person consuming alcohol would not be caught by law enforcement, and just under a thousand had reported riding in a vehicle with someone who had been consuming alcohol.

The second half of the project included making alcohol more difficult for youth to obtain, and increase the likelihood that adults who provided alcohol to youth would be apprehended and prosecuted. Which meant more compliance checks, saturation controls, surveillance, source investigation, and more patrol cars on the road over a seven month period when authorities assumed there were more underage kids out partying.

Community Voices project manager Michelle Plourde Chasse said the purpose of today's meeting was to close out and let the County know that the project completed with success.

An internal evaluation by Wake Forest School of Medicine demonstrated that there was increased exposure to the 'Underage Drinking, Adult Consequences' campaign in Aroostook County for high school students, parents and college age individuals.

Aroostook County had the highest level of media exposure, of the four pilot sites in the country, and alcohol violations doubled during the project. Students who reported driving after drinking decreased within the past 12 months and Aroostook County was the only one of the four pilot sites to display this outcome.

The other three counties that participated in the project included Jefferson County, Kentucky; Greenville County, South Carolina; and Cerro Gordo, Iowa.

The seven high schools and three colleges involved with the project were Community High School in Fort Kent, Van Buren High School, Presque Isle High School, Limestone High School, Hodgdon High School, Wisdom High School, UMPI, UMFK, and NMCC.