The Southern Vermont Red Ribbon Tree memorializes victims of drunk, drugged driving

RUTLAND - While Vermont this year had a very low rate of fatalities in drunken driving crashes, in the past, we have had many, many people killed or injured in crashes involving drunk or drugged drivers. December is "Drunk or Drugged Driving Prevention" Month and one of the activities that happens during this month is the Southern Vermont Red Ribbon Tree, which is placed in the Diamond Run Mall in Rutland. The tree is a way of remembering the victims, those who have been killed or injured, in crashes involving drivers who were under the influence or alcohol or drugs.

The Red Ribbon Tree brings together all the stakeholders in the fight against this serious problem- police, fire, youth, victims, emergency medical services, hospitals, community anti-drug coalitions, court and court alternative programs, and legislators and other political leaders. The tree is dedicated at a ceremony and people attending the ceremony have an opportunity to remember friends or loved ones (or themselves) who were victimized by placing a red ribbon with the person's name on it on the tree. Each organization can demonstrate their dedication to the cause by placing an ornament with the organization's name on it on the tree.

The event was hosted by the Stafford Technical Center SADD Chapter, which includes the students in the Public Safety Services and Health Careers. SADD members from the Fair Haven Union High School and Proctor High School Chapters and their advisors represented their schools, as did contingents from Upward Bound, the College of St. Joseph, and Stafford Technical Center's SkillsUSA Chapter. Lt. Chuck Cacciatore represented the Vermont State Police. The Rutland County Sheriff's Department sent Deputy Rick Wilbur. Lt. Kevin Geno and Sgt. Matt Prouty of the Rutland City Police Department and Sgt. Joe Arduca and Inspector Adam Pockette of the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles acted as their departments' representatives.

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