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Billboards push anti-drug message
The Drug Free Coalition of Hall County has put up billboards about drug and alcohol abuse, such as this one at the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and E.E. Butler Parkway.

Face it: Hall County has a drug problem.

That's the in-your-face message being delivered via billboard ads installed recently in the most visible action yet of the Drug Free Coalition of Hall County.

"We anticipate some people to take issue with this statement," said the coalition's project coordinator, J.P. Banks, who is hopeful the billboards will direct traffic to the group's Web site,, to take an online poll. "I hope people will use the poll to provide us with feedback."

The coalition is still in the information-gathering stages as it enters its second year, with a focus on underage drinking, marijuana, abuse of prescription drugs and tobacco.

The billboards' short, one-line messages, some accompanied by images of children, aim to catch parents off-guard and make them think, the group's members say. The messages include: "Your kids are watching," "Stay involved with me," and "You could lose me to drugs and alcohol."

"Hopefully these billboards will remind parents they are their children's best role models and teachers," said Karen Neff, adolescent health and youth development coordinator.

There are eight billboard "vinyls" up around Hall County that will be rotated to up to 40 locations in the next 12 months as advertising space becomes available. The ads are an in-kind donation worth $40,000 made by Fairway Outdoor Advertising.

"This is just another way we can be a good community partner in Hall County and support the needs of the community," said Steve Guild, Fairway's general manager. "The thing we like about this campaign is it encourages parents to engage with their children and be good examples to their children. This medium can reach parents at unexpected times when they're driving."

Guild said the company estimates the billboards will get 90,000 "impressions" daily.

"I think we're going to be reaching a lot of people when they have moments for this message to resonate," Guild said.

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