Students apply learned concepts to help law enforcement agencies in the state

Ben Franlkin student works on the barrel portion of a drug incinerator. PHOTO CREDIT (WCHS/WVAH)

Students at a Ben Franklin Career Center school are putting their skills to use, and helping law enforcement agencies dispose of drugs.

Before this, Marian Chapman had never welded before in her life.

She traded in her background in health care for a torch.

"Oh yeah I can do that, let me on in there. I got in there I was stressed," Chapman said.

Teacher Carl Spitzer was approached by the West Virginia Attorney Generals office to create drug incinerators and help law enforcement departments burn any unwanted medications in a safe way.

Plus, this project meshes together what students learn in shop and the classroom.

"Seeing it on the board is one thing, being able to actually build it is something else," Spitzer said.

Despite the challenges Chapman came across knowing it's for a good cause made the project memorable for her.

Spitzer said several students grasped many of the concepts quickly and started training others.

Wesley Fowler was one of the them.

"I figure it will help me get a job down the road and also get it off the streets that isn't supposed to be there," Fowler said.

Students start with a trailer, weilding on a diesel fuel tank and lines.

"The guns that fire the incinerator and if I'm not mistaken it gets up to 1600 degrees in Fahrenheit," Spitzer said.

Drugs are burned in barrel.

Any fumes are caught in the after-burner to get rid of any excess fumes.

Spitzer said it will help agencies struggling to find a place to dispose of drugs turned in by the community.

"How much it costs to incinerator the drugs they send out. And it's extremely expensive and so these will save each police department a lot of money," Spitzer said.

The hope is surrounding communities and departments will use the incinerators, at a time when most departments are trying to cut costs.

Chapman believes the impact could stretch even farther

"It may inspire another class or people out in the community," Chapman said.

Incinerators are going to the Parkersburg, Huntington and Star City Police Departments, along with the Boone County Sheriff's Office.

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