Public forum set for today to discuss underage drinking

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

SIKESTON, Mo. -- A public forum on the problem of underage drinking will be held tonight in Sikeston, part of an effort by a drug-free coalition to discourage parents from hosting parties where alcohol is served to minors.

The forum will be held at 6:30 p.m. in the Clinton Building at the Sikeston recreational complex.

The forum will feature a panel discussion involving Scott County prosecutor Paul Boyd, Sikeston police chief Drew Juden and Missouri Department of Corrections substance abuse counselor John Colligan.

Lynne Chambers-Ketchens, a consultant from Southern Illinois, will moderate the discussion, organizers said.

Jane Pfefferkorn, executive director of Mission Missouri, a faith-based social service organization in Sikeston and a member of the coalition, said the coalition wants the public to understand that it's not only illegal but irresponsible for parents to host such parties.

The coalition hopes the public forum will help broaden its membership, Pfefferkorn said.

The group began organizing about a year and a half ago. It currently has more than 40 members, including parents, students and representatives of law enforcement, schools, churches and youth organizations in Scott, Mississippi and New Madrid counties.

The forum was organized following a May 20 incident in which a Sikeston couple hosted a drinking party for students who had just graduated from Notre Dame Regional High School.

The hosts, Mark Cheatham and his wife, Terry Brewer-Cheatham, of 123 Greenbrier Drive in Sikeston, each face 30 state misdemeanor charges of supplying alcohol to minors.

Although Boyd, the Scott County prosecutor, will participate in the forum, Pfefferkorn said he has told her he won't comment about the case involving the Chathams.

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