Carson's drug-abuse prevention coordinator committed to change

Mary Wolkomir expects to fulfill a formidable goal in her tiny office in the back of the Carson City Sheriff's Department: reintroduce drug and violence resistance programs in Carson City schools, something long ago sacrificed in a battle for funding and staffing.

"Academics will never flourish unless we have a safe and drug-free environment to learn in," she said. "I will say, to Sheriff Ken Furlong's credit, it's been four or five years since they've had such a program in the schools here."

As the department's juvenile-substance-abuse training coordinator, Wolkomir is charged with leading the effort to identify effective drug, alcohol and violence prevention programs that can be tailored to Carson City.

She said she is considering using DARE - Drug, Alcohol, Resistance Education - which has had a $14 million overhaul of its curriculum.

For Carson City Sheriff's Detective Cate Summers, an instructor in the former DARE program, the prospect of having a prevention program reinstated is promising.

"I'm pleased that we're trying to do something," she said. "I took a look at the new curriculum, and it looks great."

In July, Wolkomir and her children, Megan, 12 and Connor 10, came from Virginia Beach, Va., to join her husband, Steve Wolkomir, Carson City's internal auditor.

Although she admits to missing the East Coast where she's spent most her life, she's overwhelmed by the hospitality here.

"The people here are some of the most gracious people I've ever met," she said.

The children have also adapted well to the Western environment.

"For being such a small community, culturally, it's one of the best I've ever seen," she said.

Prior to joining the Sheriff's Department, Wolkomir worked for a nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C.

She created and implemented a nonprofit counseling center that dealt with mental health and drug-abuse issues.

With that background, she hopes to gather enough community funding and possible grant money to fuel a prevention program for Carson City youth.

"We still need to get the message out," she said. "Prevention is the best place to start."

Contact F.T. Norton at or 881-1213.


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