A new event may become an annual tradition if enough Wetzel County community members show their support.
The first ever Wetzel County kickoff to summer community picnic will take place from 11 a.m to 2 p.m. June 14 at the Wetzel County 4-H grounds in New Martinsville. The free event, sponsored by the Wetzel County Sheriff's Department and the Wetzel County Coalition Against Drug Abuse, is for Wetzel County students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade and their families.
"I wanted to do something to connect with the community, children specifically," said Chief Administrative Deputy Mike Koontz, adding he hopes to make the picnic a tradition if it is a success.
Similarly, the coalition sought an avenue for sharing their message of a drug-free lifestyle. Koontz referenced the group as an integral part of the project planning and said they will be distributing anti-drug information at the picnic.
"We hope to bring out as many people from the community as we can," said Brandy Murray, Wetzel County Substance Abuse Prevention Program coordinator.
During the picnic, attendees can watch as one of the deputies provides an all-terrain vehicle safety demonstration, local fire departments showcase fire trucks and a Valley High School prevention resource officer and the school's sportman's club show how to shoot air rifles.
"Police officers are not bad. We're not the enemy. We're approachable," Koontz said about one of the things he wants children to take away from the picnic experience.