Gov. Butch Otter and the Idaho Meth Project (IMP) are teaming up Friday to announce the winners of a statewide contest to promote an anti-meth message among Idaho's teens and young adults. Each county will have three winners, who will each receive a cash prize and an opportunity to have their photo taken with Otter and his wife, Lori. The best piece of anti-meth art in the state will be recognized by Otter, and its producer will receive $5,000. More than 345 pieces of art from all over the state were submitted to the contest, known as Paint the State.
In April, IMP asked teens, ages 13-18, to create unique message to show the dangers of meth use. The group followed the lead of the Montana Meth Project, which held its own art contest in 2006 and gave away more than $300,000 in prize money. (See results from Montana’s contest here) Teens in Montana produced more than 650 pieces of art for the contests, including large billboards, paintings, three-dimensional displays, and messages painted on the sides of livestock.
First-, second-, and third -place place winners will each receive $1,500, $1,000, and $500, respectively. Only the works selected as first place will move on to be eligible for the statewide contest. According to a previous interview with Megan Ronk, spokesperson for IMP, tax dollars won’t be given away as prize money. The state allocates a certain amount of money to the program each year for its operations. For the next fiscal year, which starts in July, IMP will receive $500,000 from the Idaho Millenium Fund, which is the state’s earnings from the investment of money from the 1998 settlement with tobacco companies.
As for the amount decided to give away as prize money, Ronk said the total amount was what the group felt comfortable with. ”We just felt like that was an acceptable level of prize money to get teens excited,” said Ronk. She also said that Montana will be using the same cash prize allocation formula to award winners in its own contest this year, though she pointed out that the dollar amount used in that state will still be higher because Montana has more counties than Idaho. The money for prizes comes from the contest’s sponsors, Monsanto, Blue Cross of Idaho, and the Idaho Hospital Association. Ronk said IMP is looking for more sponsors, but is thrilled to have the three backers on board.
The official ceremony is slated for Friday, Aug. 6, at 2:30 p.m., and will be held at the Statehouse in Boise. Organizers say the event could last as long as two hours. All participants, including those who do not win prizes, will still receive T-shirts, tote bags, and certificates. For more information, visit the event's website here, or to see pictures of all the entries, visit the Paint the State contest page here.
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