The News Leader from Staunton, Virginia on November 11, 1987 · 21
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The News Leader from Staunton, Virginia · 21

Staunton, Virginia
Issue Date:
Wednesday, November 11, 1987
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wm Mite imstM Performance-based scholarships are available for the resourceful see page C7 POTLIGH 3 SydeirDJs oelf ihe mnessoae DRUG TALK Cpl. J.D. Flower of the Staunton Police Department explains the dangers of drug use in a talk to fifth-graders at Thomas McSwain Elementary School. Lis- By AUDREY ROSS .Staff Writer If you take drugs you can go to jail and that means you can only eat bread and drink milk, Travis Griffith, a fifth-grade student at Thomas C. McSwain elementary school told his teacher. Well that's not exactly accurate, but yes, if you take drugs you can go to jail, agreed Cpl. J.D. Flower, a Staunton police officer who is teaching students as part of the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program being introduced in area schools. The 45-minute lecture is the fifth at McSwain for Flower, who will lead a total of 13 classes in all four of Staunton's elementary schools for 17 weeks. He will also pay occasional visits to two junior high schools teaching students drug awareness and methods of resisting peer pressure. "It's much more than just say 'no.' I have a chance now to teach them the truth about drugs and influence them in a positive way," said Flower. "What he's teaching children is so compatible with what a child needs to know. The earlier we can give them accurate information the more they will know," agreed McSwain Principal Elizabeth Harris. "I think there is definitely more drug awareness (among students) today mainly due to television and newspapers and that it's important to give them accurate information because there is so much misinformation," said Harris. Flower said because of television many children see police officers as a threat but by wearing a uniform in class, he is able to grab the chil-drens' attention and teach them policemen are not a threat. "It's one thing to have a teacher say it or a parent say it... I think with a uniform it tends to emphasize it (the lesson)," said Leslie Wagner, fifth-grade teacher at McSwain. "What do you think would happen if you drank a six-pack of beer everyday?" Flower asked the class. "You get weary because if you took drugs it makes you weary. You'll get poison in your body system," said Andrea Peters. "You'd be messed up," said Charlie Maxwell. "You won't be able to walk straight," said David Hanna. Using drugs a lot can also cause brain damage and loss of memory, students said. 4 f , : ; . :; . i , , - I i ii i ' 11 ii iii ii' i ...l jj ..i i.i iii n. ! m pirn itlW tiini 'iii lifii rr f-"- ..AJfaaaaJfci T; TREASURE BOOK This recently published volume by !. Bedford historian Peter Viemeister examines the legend , ;j of Thomas J. Beale, who purportedly buried valuable , i treasure in the Bedford area in the early 1800s. n) tening intently is Travis Griffith, the son of Mrs. and Mrs. Mike Griffith. Flower will lead similar discussions in area elementary schools as part of the Drug Awareness Resist- 7 have a chance now to teach them the truth about drugs and influence them in a positive way. ' - Cpl. J.D. Flower "Look at all these bad things but what about the good consequences. What happens when you are not using drugs? " asked Flower. "You'll be in good health," said Kriston Snyder. - "You'll have a clean system," said another student. "You won't have a hangover," added another. "There's more bad things that can happen to you if you take drugs so why do people take it?" he asked. "They don't think what's going to happen to them if they take them," Kristine said. The majority agreed people took drugs because of peer pressure. Part of the aim of the DARE program, said Cpl. Flower, is to teach students they have a choice and don't have to give in to peer pressure. "It's not that these schools have a problem. We're just starting them young so when they get to high school where peer pressure is the strongest they think of the dangers and know they have a choice," said Virginia State Police Trooper K.L. Hyden, area coordinator for the DARE program. "Hopefully, they will learn how to say 'no' without loosing self-esteem," said Hyden. Hyden said the students role play scenes in which one student offers another a drug and the others walk away. Say "no" by walking away, giving a reason or excuse, changing the subject, avoiding the situation or ignoring the person, said Flower. "Don't hang around with people that try to tell you what to do ... just walk away.. .give them a reason," explained Flower. "A lot of people who take drugs have a problem, but if they take drugs there problem is not going to go away," said Flower. "Peer pressure is always going to be there but I think it's important for them (the students) to have something to fall back on and maybe The Beale Treasure TV show to probe Bedford By JEFF OVERHOLTZER Staff Writer BEDFORD This town's famed Beale treasure legend will be featured on a segment of NBC's prime-time special series "Unsolved Mysteries," according to a film producer. "I think it's a great mystery," said Eric Taylor of Cosgrove-Meurer Productions of Los Angeles. "I don't know if there is a treasure or there isn't a treasure, but it's a great story," he said from his office. His film crew was in Bedford Oct. 27-30 to work on a segment on the Beale Treasure for "Unsolved Mysteries," which airs sporadically. The series features stories of unsolved crimes and missing persons, and encourages audience participation in cracking the cases. The Beale Treasure segment is expected to air some time early next year, according to Bedford residents who worked with the film crew. The television effort has thrown the spotlight on Peter Viemeister, a Bedford historian who has just published a book on the treasure. Viemeister, who was in Staunton and other local communities recently to promote the volume, said sales have been so brisk since the Aug. 29 publication of "The Beale Treasure: A History of a Mystery" that he's already ordered a second printing. He declined to provide sales figures. The 236-page book, published by Viemeister's own company, "Hamilton's," is available locally at The Bookstack. ir ' A' 'Kv:' 'I don't know if there is a treasure or there isn't a treasure, but it's a great story.' Eric Taylor, film producer Viemeister, a 58-year-old retired executive of Grumman Corporation, is the narrator of the Beale treasure segment in the NBC special. A six-person crew spend four days filming him and other local residents for the segment, he said. "Generally, the town thought it was kind of fun. They're looking forward to seeing Bedford on T.V.," said Viemeister. The legend of the Beale treasure began in 1885, with the publication of a pamphlet in nearby Lynchburg. The pamphlet, authored by an unknown person, said that in the 1820s,. one Thomas J. Beale left the clues to a treasure at a Lynchburg guest house. The legend has it that Beale had buried gold and silver from the West, which Viemeister said would be worth $21 million at today's prices, and left three sheets of ciphers saying who the metals should go to, how much there was, and where it was. So far, only the cipher saying how much there was has been cracked, Viemeister said. Part of the "Unsolved Mysteries" segment will feature an actor from the Little Town Players, a community theater mi diruis ance Education (DARE) program being implemented around the state. (Photos by Dennis Sutton) they will remember just say 'no,' " said Ms. Wagner. The officers make children understand saying "no" should not make them feel bad but good, said Hyden. Hyden leads discussions in kindergaten through fifth grades twice a week in Elkton, Port Republic and Grottoes elementary schools. All the officers involved in the DARE program spend all day with the students including recess and lunch, said Hyden. "I think the more time the students spend with him, the more they learn to respect him," said Ms. Wagner, which reinforces the lessons being taught, she said. Using transparencies, color illustrations, posters and a video, plus an occasional visit by a midget size McGruff who talks via cassettes, Hyden said he teaches youths how to recognize dangers and how to deal with them by inviting them to act out situations. "It's sort of like education with entertainment," said Hyden. "They're not used to seeing a policeman teach and that's good. It probably gets their attention," said Hyden. Lessons include simple rules like not talking to strangers and learning to dial "zero" in an emergency to discussing different types of drugs at the upper levels, said Hyden. "We illustrate what to do if someone knocks on the door if their parents aren't home or ....(in higher level classes) what to do if someone offers them a drug," said Hyden. Hyden said he has seen some mild results of the program. Two of the students in one of his classes have stopped using chewing tobacco. Flower said several of his students have promised him they would never use drugs. The DARE program is being conducted in Albemarle County, Green, Rockingham, Augusta County, Rockbrodge school systems and in the cities of Harrisonburg, Buena Vista, Staunton, Charlottesville and Lexington. The program which began as a pilot program in Los Angeles has now been implemented in an estimated 90 out of 136 school divisions in the state. The program is funded in part by a grant from the state department of criminal justice. group, depicting Beale as he encodes his message into ciphers. Another segment shows Viemeister in the Bedford County Courthouse poring over documents relating to the treasure. "The (filming) technique was interesting to me," said the historian. "They shoot every scene from several different angles so that when they edit, they can pick and choose scenes. I had to climb up a ladder to the top shelf again and again and again I felt I was on a treadmill." Yet another segment shows an interview at the local country store, in which residents offer opinions about the credibility of the treasure legend. Viemeister became interested in the legend after he retired and began working with the Bedford City-County Museum, where people frequently drop in to ask for old maps that may help them find the treasure. "I used to think it was fiction, pure fiction," Viemeister said. "But the more I've dug into it, I think maybe it's true." Taylor was not predicting whether the legend is true. "I think the thing that appealed to us about the story is the lon mystery gevity of the legend and the fact that no one's been able to disprove it, yet no one's found the treasure," Taylor said. "It's got a nice combination in something way from the past, from the beginning of our country, and also people are now using home computers to try to break the ciphers." Publicity from the filming is already generating plenty of calls from treasure and history-buffs to Viemeister. "I'm getting an awful lot of inquiries from all over the place," he said, adding that letters have come from as far away as Albuquerque, N.M. The amateur historian said the key to the success of his book was its appeal to a variety of readers: "It's catching people who are not just treasure hunters, but people who like American history and adventure mysteries." The book includes a reproduction of the original Beale papers, including the ciphers, and six detailed maps of the area. Taylor and Viemeister declined to predict whether the show will lure droves of treasure hunters to a county that already has had problems including a dug-up grave and fences that have been slashed during more than 100 years of treasure hunting. "We want to protect and safeguard it, so people won't come digging up Bedford County," Taylor said. The televised segment will include an interview with a judge who jailed someone who violated a grave, as well as informa-(See BEALE, page C2) ." 'i

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