Working together for a safer, healthier, drug-free community
The Weakley County Prevention Coalition is one of only a very few original community based prevention organizations in Tennessee, which began in the late 1980’s – the vision of the late Governor Ned Ray McWherter. The Coalition was formed in response to the alarming consequences individual communities encountered due to underage tobacco and alcohol use, and the disturbing trends in marijuana and cocaine use and abuse by youth and adults. McWherter understood that, joined together, community representatives were more knowledgeable as to the risk and protective factors impacting substance use issues – the state would be best served by recognizing successful efforts to reduce and/or eliminate the negative behaviors and consequences.
Today, the Weakley County Prevention Coalition is one of 54 established coalitions in Tennessee, and one of a dozen in the state to be funded by the Drug-Free Communities grant to address underage and binge drinking and prescription drug abuse/misuse. The mission of the Weakley County Prevention Coalition is to plan and implement strategies to prevent and reduce substance use and its consequences, thereby enhancing the lives of youth and adults across Weakley County. WCPC’s vision is to create a safe, tobacco, and drug-free community by uniting individuals and groups toward a common goal. WCPC continues to educate the public about the latest trends in substance abuse and is constantly evolving to develop new helpful tools and resources that empower citizens and the local community in order to reduce and prevent drug and alcohol-related problems. WCPC is comprised of an ever-growing group of citizens representing all 12 community sectors with one common goal: to crate a safer, healthier, drug-free community. With two active youth coalitions and one collegiate coalition, and plans in motion to establish youth coalitions in all four high schools and middle schools in the county, WCPC is excelling at strengthening its presence and service to youth in Weakley County.
Mission and Values
Mission: The mission of the Weakley County Prevention Coalition is to plan and implement strategies to prevent and reduce substance use and its consequences thereby enhancing the lives of youth and adults across Weakley County.
Vision: The vision of the Weakley County Prevention Coalition is to create a safe, tobacco, and drug-free community by uniting individuals and groups toward a common goal.
Weakley County Prevention Coalition Board
Deborah Gibson, WCPC Chair
Deborah Gibson is a professor in the Department of Health and Human Performance at the University of Tennessee at Martin where she teaches courses in the Public Health concentration. She came to UT Martin in 1994 after graduating from Southern Illinois University with a B.S. in Biology, M.S. in School Health Education and a Ph.D. in Community Health Education. Deborah is MCHES certified (Master Certified Health Education Specialist) and holds the CPS-II credential (Certified Prevention Specialist). She was appointed Executive Board Chair for WCPC in 2014. Deborah is committed to working collaboratively with individuals and community partners to employ effective strategies to mitigate the factors that put our youth at increased risk for engaging in risky behaviors that lead to negative health outcomes.
Gary Eddings, WCPC Vice Chair
Gary has served as WCPC Vice Chair since 2014. He has been employed at the Weakley County Electric Company since 1987 in the engineering department. He is also the Sharon Fire Chief and serves as a part time deputy at the Weakley County Sheriff’s Department. With an extensive background in law enforcement, EMT and EMS, and current position as a County Commissioner, Gary has a passion for public health and safety.
Bethany Allen, WCPC Treasurer
Bethany has served as WCPC Treasurer since 2016. She is a Weakley County native and graduated from the University of Tennessee at Martin with a Bachelors in Family and Consumer Science. Bethany served as WCPC director for 2 years and helped write the Drug Free Communities Grand before taking on her new role as director of Coordinated School Health in the Weakley County School System.
Catherine Jones, WCPC Secretary
Catherine Jones has served as secretary of the WCPC since August 2016. She has been actively involved with the WCPC since 2008. She is an employee of the Weakley County School System, serving as the Parental Involvement Coordinator and the Teacher Center Coordinator for the past eleven years. Married for 17 years, she is the wife of Emmett and mother of two teenagers.
Weakley County Prevention Coalition Staff
Suzanne Harper, WCPC Program Director: Suzanne has served as WCPC director since July 2016. She is a Martin native and graduate of the University of Tennessee at Martin with a Bachelors of Science in Business Administration and Marketing. With a professional background in public relations and advertising, she is enthusiastic about highlighting WCPC’s efforts and raising awareness about the prevention resources offered to the community. Suzanne is involved in several community organizations and civic groups and is passionate about the health and growth of her hometown. She is a graduate of CADCA Academy and is a certified on-premise responsible beverage service instructor.
Courtney Echols, WCPC Program Coordinator: Courtney, a Jackson TN native, graduated from the University of Tennessee at Martin in 2014 with a Bachelors of Science in Sociology. She has served as the Weakley County Prevention Coalition Program Coordinator since 2015. Her top priorities within the coalition are overseeing the Weakley County Youth Coalition as well as youth functions and events. She is also a certified Responsible Beverage Service instructor and graduate of CADCA Academy. She lives in Martin with her husband and two children and serves on a variety of civic and volunteer groups. With a passion for serving others, Courtney is dedicated to making our community a safer place
Melesa Lassiter, BSN, RN, Regional Overdose Prevention Specialist: Melesa Lassiter BSN, RN a Dresden TN native, graduated from Bethel University with a Bachelors of Science in Nursing and then completed the necessary testing to obtain licensure as a Registered Nurse. She has been with the Weakley County Prevention Coalition since September of 2017 as the Regional Overdose Prevention Specialist (ROPS) of Region 6 North covering all off North-West Tennessee. Her goal as a ROPS of northwest Tennessee is to educate the public, medical community, law enforcement, and first responders on the opioid epidemic. She currently trains and equips individuals with the life saving drug Narcan (naloxone). Naloxone is a prescription medicine used for the treatment of an opioid emergency such as an overdose or a possible opioid overdose.
Brannon Powell, Lifeline Peer Recovery Specialist: Brannon Powell is the new Lifeline Peer Coordinator for Region 6 North. The TN Lifeline Project was established to reduce the stigma related to the disease of addiction and increase community support for policies that provide for treatment and recovery services. Brannon has several years of recovery experience through overcoming his own struggles with addiction and his previous employment at Discovery Place Men’s Treatment Facility as well as Hope Center Ministries. Brannon received his Bachelors of Science in Business Administration from UT Knoxville and is also certified as a Christian Addiction/Recovery counselor. Brannon resides in Brownsville, TN and is the proud father of 4 daughters and 2 grandsons.