By Thomas Garcia
QCS Senior Writer
Mesalands Community College held a student appreciation/safety week to encourage students to be safe during spring break.
The college held events throughout the week designed to encourage the students to make good choices while they were on holiday break.
As part of the events, Mesalands chose to honor the former rodeo team member, Meagan McCain, who died in a DWI related incident accident in 2009. McCain’s story was shared in order to remind students about the impact their decisions can have on others.
McCain’s mother Donna McCain gave an emotional speech on DWI awareness and talked about the life of her only child.
“It’s so important that Mesalands had this event to bring awareness about the dangers of alcohol,” McCain said. “I just think people make better decisions, when they have the knowledge about the consequences of their actions.”
“Student Appreciation and Safety Week was about providing safety information for our student body, including education on drugs, alcohol and sexual assault,” said Aaron Kennedy, vice president of student affairs.
The students also took part in a FatalVision obstacle course at the North American Wind Research and Training Center.
Those taking part in the obstacle course wore the goggles that simulated the vision of a driver impaired by alcohol while driving a pedal powered wagon trying their best to stay within the boundaries, avoid obstacles en route to various checkpoints. At each check point the students tried to read information posted on a board, took a shot of apple juice and exchanged their goggles with a set with a higher distortion factor.
The goggles make it hard to steer the wagon and as you move along to the different stations it only gets worse, said Betty Pack, Mesalands student.
“It may have seemed like fun to take part in the obstacle course, but I assure you there is nothing fun about a DWI,” said Noreen Hendrickson, chair of the Quay County DWI Task Force.
Hendrickson spoke to the students about the cost and penalties a person receives when charged and convicted of their first DWI offense.
“The highest cost is your life, or the life of another,” Hendrickson said.
Hendrickson said the first offense includes 364 days of probation that is essentially a 364 day suspended jail sentence, one that you must complete the conditions of your probation, 48 hours of community services and court fines to avoid being incarcerated.
While DWI is one of the leading causes of accidents and fatalities in the United States there is another issue that continues to grow as a concern and that is distracted drivers said Paul Bell, Sgt. Tucumcari Police Department.
Bell spoke to the students about the dangers of texting and using the phone while driving an automobile.
“We’ve all done it, sent a text, took a call, used the maps app,” Bell said. “It only takes a few seconds to take your eyes off the road and tragedy can happen.”
Bell played a video for the students about a man who killed two people while texting and driving. In the video the man explained how he regretted his decision to text while driving and should have just waited until he got to work.
Bell said there are so many distractions in a vehicle without the use of a cell phone including the radio, passengers and even eating while driving. He said using a cell phone will become while driving will become illegal effective July 1 thanks to legislation signed into law by Gov. Susana Martinez.
Events throughout the week included d a “Mocktail” contest, which was a contest to see who could make the tastiest alcohol free cocktails. The Epic Proportions Concert Tour featured Gabe Kubanda and Corrin Campbell, a free movie night at the Odeon Theater and root beer floats.
The week wrapped up with the announcement of the totals of the weeklong Penny Wars held to raise money for the Meagan McCain Memorial Scholarship fund. Edmiles Harvey won the Penny Wars contest and was named the Mesalands Stampede Favorite Cowboy.
Over $500 was collected from the Penny Wars activity and was donated to the scholarship fund.