News from the Tennessee Valley State, Local and National news
SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2007

Holloway’s mother to speak at Decatur conference

By Melanie B. Smith · 340-2468

Beth Holloway Twitty, mother of the Mountain Brook teen who disappeared in Aruba in 2005, will be the opening speaker for the fifth Child Safety Conference in Decatur.

The one-day event, “Protecting Our Children and Teens,” will be at Decatur Baptist Church on April 19, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event has 20 community sponsors, including mental health, law enforcement, social services and education groups.

Twitty’s daughter Natalee Holloway was on a high school graduation trip when she disappeared. Twitty will give a tribute to Natalee and will present tips to help students travel safely abroad. Twitty started the International Safe Travels Foundation.

Other speakers will be:

  • Sheriff Jeffrey Dawsy of Citrus County, Fla. He will present information about the kidnapping, assault and murder of Jessica Lunsford in 2005 and the arrest and trial of John Couey. Dawsy will also address the effectiveness of school resource officers.

  • Kevin Turner of the Madison County district attorney’s office. An investigator who has trained professionals in identifying gang-related crimes, he will speak about gang culture and lifestyles in North Alabama.

  • Larry Little, executive director of The Enrichment Center in Decatur. He will address at-risk behavior and mental health of school-age children.

  • Jeffrey Arney, a postal inspector with the U.S. Postal Service. He will speak about prevention of sexual exploitation of children, identification of child sex offenders and Internet safety.

  • E.J. “Rocky” Harnen Jr., a special agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration. He will explain trends in methamphetamine manufacture, distribution and use in the region.


    Twitty will speak at 8:30 a.m. Turner, Little, Harnen and Arney will present workshops at 9:45, which they will repeat at 11. Dawsy will speak at 1 and 2:15 p.m. Registration is $25 if received by April 12 and $35 afterward. Lunch is included. Limited scholarships are available to parents who have children in Decatur City schools. Call Phil Hastings at 552-3000.

    Continuing education credits and professional development credits may be available for nurses, social workers and educators. Among sponsors are Decatur General West Behavioral Medicine Center, Decatur Police Department, Alabama State Department of Education and The Enrichment Center. To get a registration form or more information, call the Mental Health Association in Morgan County at 353-1160.

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