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Anti-Vaping campaign brings a cash reward for students

MARATHON COUNTY, Wis. (WAOW) -- Crime Stoppers launched their pilot program this week for a select group of Marathon County schools.

Jeff Lindell played a unique role in it all. In addition to being an administrator for the D.C. Everest School District, he is the vice president of the Marathon County Crime Stoppers.

"It's very new," he said. But the problem has been growing. "Just look at the CDC website and you see the numbers popping up."

The latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show 2,000 people have lung illnesses related to vaping and 47 people have died.

Mosinee High School principal Nathan Lehman said, "we asked each other, how can we tackle this and how can we be proactive instead of reactive. "

Last year, teachers at Mosinee High School brought up their concerns in a weekly meeting. Lehman recalled teachers saying, "kids think it is okay and they hear kids say it is okay."

So, Lehman said, that month they devised a plan. Now in effect for about a year.

If a student gives the administration a tip that leads to the confiscation of an e-cigarette, they'll be rewarded $20 (confidentially).

In the 2018-19 school year, they received 3 successful tips. This year, they haven't received a single one. Lehman said that's a good thing.

Students and teachers tell him they see fewer people vaping at Mosinee High School.

Jeff Lindell said, "We're taking a little bit of what he's done and moving it into a campus crime stoppers opportunity."

According to Lindell, funding could be a key obstacle. The Marathon County Board recently decided Crime Stoppers will lose all county funding by 2023.

"From a long term standpoint," said Lindell, "We're not sure we can maintain it."

The pilot program will last from December to February at DC Everest and Wausau High Schools. Funding is also being provided to the program at Mosinee High School.

If Crime Stoppers is able to continue the program, Lindell said, he aims to expand to rural school districts.

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Tom Lally

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