Vermonters Recognized for Work in Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, Intervention, Recovery and Enforcement

For Immediate Release: November 13, 2003
Updated: November 18, 2003

Media Contact: Corbett Sionainn
Vermont Department of Health

FAIRLEE, VT—More than 350 substance abuse treatment, recovery, and prevention providers are attending the Vermont Department of Health’s Annual Substance Abuse Conference at the Lake Morey Inn in Fairlee, VT on November 13 and 14.

The conference provides a yearly forum for the discussion of substance abuse issues and concerns in Vermont. Attendees include professionals in treatment, prevention, intervention, and enforcement.

Each year at this event, the Vermont Commissioner of Health and members of the substance abuse profession honor Vermonters for their contributions to the field of substance abuse prevention, treatment, recovery, and enforcement. This year, Health Commissioner Dr. Paul Jarris presented awards to 11 Vermonters who were instrumental in addressing substance abuse during the past year.

Special Recognition Awards are a special part of the awards ceremony each year. The advocates for the field of substance abuse are diverse. They help to move Vermont ahead by supporting and creating methods of best practice in systems of care throughout the state.

MONTPELIER: A Special Recognition Award was given to Governor Jim Douglas at this year’s conference for his support of substance abuse issues through his $7.96 million Drug, Education, Treatment, Enforcement, and Rehabilitation (D.E.T.E.R.) initiative. Announced earlier this year, the Governor’s D.E.T.E.R. initiative is a far-reaching, comprehensive plan that funds nearly $3 million of new programs and services, coordinates existing resources into a single statewide initiative, and focuses on providing a sustainable strategy to address today’s substance abuse issues. The D.E.T.E.R. initiative calls for an emphasis on prevention including the funding of 10 new middle and high school Student Assistance counselors. The plan also provides more emphasis on treatment for those who are addicted including enhanced outpatient treatment and aftercare, a new in-patient treatment facility, funding for residential drug treatment programs, and the development and funding of recovery centers in the state.

STOWE; CHITTENDEN COUNTY: The Honorable Dean B. Pineles, Vermont Trial Court Judge received a Special Recognition Award for his persistence in pursuing the creation of a family treatment drug court in Chittenden County. Judge Pineles brought together professionals from the legal community and Social and Rehabilitation Services to develop and implement the family treatment drug court in Chittenden County.

The Alan Buckland Award is given each year for distinguished service in the field of substance abuse prevention and treatment.

NORTHFIELD: Howard Hood from the Central Vermont Substance Abuse Services received the Alan Buckland Award for his work in substance abuse treatment and prevention. Mr. Hood received the most nominations for this award in recent history. Mr. Hood was nominated by nine people from three Washington County organizations – Washington County Mental Health, the Barre office of Social and Rehabilitative Services and Central Vermont Substance Abuse Services. Those nominating Mr. Hood stated that he has a professional reputation as an informed, multidisciplinary client advocate with an infectious character whose professional practice consistently reflects excellence.

The Kathy Fiona Award has been awarded since 1997 and is given to a substance abuse professional who has shown excellence in Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Prevention.

SHOREHAM: This year’s recipient of the Kathy Fiona Award was Adrienne Cohen, an Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Consultant in the Department of Health’s Middlebury office. Over the past few years, Ms. Cohen has dedicated a large part of her work to Vermont’s elders and their needs for substance abuse education, treatment, prevention, and intervention. The State Coalition on Substance Abuse and Older Vermonters nominated Ms. Cohen for the award.

Director’s Awards recognize the outstanding leadership of Vermonters in the field of substance abuse prevention, education, intervention, recovery, and enforcement.

BALTIMORE, VT: Steve Waldo from the Vermont Department of Liquor Control received one of this year’s Director’s Awards for his sustained commitment and dedication to tobacco control and prevention. Mr. Waldo provides training to local merchants about tobacco and liquor products and regulations. He has been a participant in local prevention coalitions, the START team and has presented information at school fairs and community events.

NORTH CALAIS: Deb Haskins received a Director’s Award for her outstanding substance abuse intervention efforts. Ms. Haskins is the President of the Vermont Drug and Alcohol Coalition, the Executive Director of the Student Assistance Professionals organization and the Chair of the Vermont Alcohol and Drug Abuse Certification Board. Under Ms. Haskin’s leadership, the Vermont Association for Student Assistance Professionals has grown from a small group of professionals providing mutual support to an association of nearly 100 Student Assistance professionals. As chair of the Certification Board, Ms. Haskins works to ensure that only counselors who have met the highest standards of education receive certification for providing substance abuse treatment services in Vermont. The Vermont Drug and Alcohol Coalition works towards increasing substance abuse funding and services in Vermont.

NEWBURY: Captain Mike Jennings received a Director’s Award for outstanding substance abuse enforcement efforts. Captain Jennings is the Commander of the Vermont State Police Special Investigative Unit. The unit includes all special investigations in the state and the Drug Task Force Unit. The Drug Task Force Unit cooperates with federal, other state, and local law enforcement groups throughout Vermont. As a result of a reorganization led by Captain Jennings, there has been an increase in the number of ongoing investigations, numbers of arrests, and an overall increase in officer productivity and morale.

WAITSFIELD: Annie Ramniceanu is the Director’s Award recipient for demonstrating a commitment to excellence, outstanding achievement, and leadership in the field of substance abuse treatment efforts. Ms. Ramniceanu is the Director of Counseling at Spectrum Youth and Family Services. She is a devoted clinician who strives to bring the best practice and current research to Spectrum and her clients and provides leadership in the development of a continuum of care, from prevention to recovery. In 2004, Ms. Ramniceanu will be working with David Powell, PhD at the Substance Abuse Training Institute in Singapore hosting an international symposium on the treatment of addictions.

BARRE TOWN: Representative Tom Koch of Barre Town was presented a Director’s Award to recognize his dedication to recovery services in Vermont. Because of his leadership, Vermont is becoming a recognized trend-setter in building treatment systems that include recovery centers and services.

SOUTH BURLINGTON: Senator Jim Leddy of South Burlington was recognized with a Director’s Award to recognize his focus on important alcohol and substance abuse issues including the need for a full range of treatment alternatives and support during recovery. As Chair of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, Senator Leddy was a voice of passionate commitment to the field of behavioral health. He led the fight to expand services in mental health and substance abuse and to expand access to care for all Vermonters in need.

BURLINGTON: Tom Perras was recognized with a Director’s Award for his leadership in alcohol and addiction treatment, prevention and recovery services in Vermont for over 12 years. He has played a significant role in moving the field of substance abuse treatment in Vermont forward into the new century. Mr. Perras recently retired from his position as Director of the Vermont Department of Health’s Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Programs and is now working as a consultant to assist in the development of new treatment services in the state.

The Buell Mitchell Award is presented each year in recognition of the compassion, integrity, teamwork, endurance, and good humor necessary to be successful in the field of substance abuse.

BURLINGTON: Tom Perras, the former director of the Vermont Department of Health’s Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Programs, was named this year’s recipient of the Buell Mitchell Award. Mr. Perras has provided clear vision and single-minded dedication for the issue of substance abuse in Vermont and has shown unwavering support for the entire continuum of services necessary to address alcohol and drug abuse. Tom Perras is a leader who has shown the utmost support, admiration and respect to those providing substance abuse services and those who receive them. Mr. Perras recently retired from public service after providing 36 years of dedicated service to Vermont’s citizens.