Sheriff Speaks to Young Democrats about Substance Abuse in the Panhandle


File Photo of Sheriff Pete Dougherty. Credit – Spirit of Jefferson.

Charles Town, West Virginia – Arrests alone are not enough to curb the substance abuse crisis in the Eastern Panhandle, says Jefferson County Sheriff Peter Dougherty. On Saturday, August 29, Dougherty addressed a roundtable convened in Charles Town by the Eastern Panhandle Young Democrats to discuss the rising number of heroin overdoses and drug-related crime in the region.

During Fiscal Year 2015 (July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015) the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department received over 13,000 calls for service, an increase of 12.5% from the previous year, in spite of population remaining stable. Dougherty estimates that at least 2/3 of property crimes (thefts, larceny and burglary crimes) are related to person(s) who are drug addicted. While drug use is addressed by law enforcement arresting those committing crimes (Jefferson County saw a 19% increase in felony and misdemeanor arrests in FY 2015) Dougherty sees promise in professional interventions such as the Jefferson County Day Report Center and peer-based addiction recovery programs such as Oxford House as alternatives ways to break the cycle of addiction.

“We are not going to arrest our way out of this problem,” said Dougherty, noting the importance of addiction treatment programs and lack of available rehabilitation services in the Panhandle. “We live in an area where many times an individual addicted to drugs that wants to get off is told they have to wait six month to get into a treatment program. That delay is often overwhelming and lessens the chances of a change.”

The Eastern Panhandle Young Democrats hope Saturday’s roundtable will be the first in a series of conversations that go beyond alarming statistics and get to the root of the substance abuse problem. Participants also discussed health education in schools, limitations in existing mental health and addiction treatment centers, and community-based heath initiatives such as the Drug Free Community grant being pursued by concerned citizens and the Jefferson County Dept. of Health.


Young Dems Sworn in by WV Democratic Party Vice-Chair Chris Regan

Charles Town, West Virginia – Members and officers of the Eastern Panhandle Young Democrats (EPYD) were sworn in Sunday evening in front of the Charles Town Courthouse by Chris Regan, Vice-Chair of the West Virginia Democratic Executive Committee and author of the popular blog “Home Yesterday”.


Member of EPYD with WV Party Vice-Chair Chris Regan (second from left) in front of the Jefferson County Courthouse in Charles Town. 

Sammi Brown, Vice President of the Eastern Panhandle Young Democrats, said, “Establishing this tradition marks the revival of our local chapter of young progressives. Our generation has the most to gain by getting involved in the political process, but also the most to lose by sitting at home.”

“It is vitally important to have civic engagement from citizens of every age and demographic,” Regan said.  “It is refreshing to see this diverse group coming together to discuss the issues that affect them and advocate for progress.”

The Eastern Panhandle Young Democrats is a non-profit membership organization open to registered Democrats, ages 18 to 35, from Morgan, Berkeley, and Jefferson County, West Virginia.

Read more about WV Politics from Chris Regan at –

Young Democrats Build Beds for Community Garden

Martinsburg, West Virginia – Members of the Eastern Panhandle Young Democrats (EPYD) commemorated Memorial Day by building three raised beds for the Garden of Promise, part of the Burke Street Neighborhood of Promise Initiative. The raised beds will be filled with topsoil and will provide participating families from the Burke Street neighborhood with a place to grow fresh vegetables, herbs,  and greens throughout the summer.

“The Eastern Panhandle Young Democrats are happy to get our hands dirty and help support valuable community initiatives like the Garden of Promise,” said David Manthos, EPYD president. “Community gardens are an outstanding way to provide healthy nutrition and build community, and Democrats are proud to support that through our long tradition of public service,” Manthos continued.


The Burke Street Neighborhood of Promise is an initiative of the United Way of the Eastern Panhandle. The Eastern Panhandle Young Democrats is a non-profit membership organization open to registered Democrats, ages 18 to 35, from Morgan, Berkeley, or Jefferson County, West Virginia.

Upcoming Event: Sept. EPYD General Meeting

Thursday, Sept. 18, 7:00 pm at Jefferson County Democratic Headquarters in Shepherdstown (126 W. German Street).

The Eastern Panhandle Young Democrats will resume our regular monthly meetings to plan our outreach efforts through the election. This planning session is critical since we only have one month left until the registration deadline for the General Election.

All are invited and light refreshments will be provided. Meetings typically last about one hour.