Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Letters to the Editor

May 9, 2014

Teen challenge making a difference

— — I am writing regarding an editorial in your newspaper dated April 20, 2014, titled “The Healing Place:’ Recovery program vital for Mercer.” I applaud anyone’s efforts to bring attention to the drug problem in Mercer County. However, I am disappointed that the writer of the article would print non-factual information.

In the article the writer stated, “Given the rampant drug problem in Mercer County, there is an obvious need for a long-term recovery center for those individuals who are genuinely committed to overcoming the chains of substance abuse and turning their lives around. Unfortunately, there are no such long-term treatment programs in the county.” This statement is simply not true. Appalachian Teen Challenge, Inc. is located in Mercer County and has provided long-term, residential treatment for individuals ages 12 and up for over 30 years.

 Utilizing educational, emotional, spiritual, and vocational components, we have seen many of our graduates re-enter society as normally functioning individuals. One of our graduates recently passed his bar exam to become an attorney, another is now a doctor, one was just accepted into a nursing program at a local college, and many others are now teachers, police officers, laborers, pastors and so forth.

I am surprised that Delegate Shott is not aware of Teen Challenge, if indeed that is the case, since the Shott Foundation has on several occasions funded our endeavors. Many of our past and current residents were referred to teen challenge by judges.

The people of Mercer County deserve to know the truth. I trust that you will correct the errors in the article. You can learn more about Teen Challenge by visiting our website at Or better still, I invite you, the writer, and Delegate Shott to visit our campus in Princeton, the long-term treatment program that is located in Mercer County. There you will see guys and girls in a long-term life skills training program, receiving a second chance at life.

James M. Nickels, executive director

Appalachian Teen Challenge, Inc.,

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