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Chris Berry's mother, Judd representative among those to address forum

As part of its ongoing efforts to raise awareness about the dangers of binge drinking following the deaths of students Steven D. Judd and Christopher P. Berry, New Mexico State University is sponsoring a community forum on the problem of alcohol abuse among young people.

ne Berry, Chris Berry's mother, will speak at the forum scheduled from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 4, at the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum in Las Cruces.

Judd's parents also were invited to speak by NMSU President Michael Martin.

"We ... have asked Claudia Montoya, a 2004 graduate of NMSU in criminal justice, the DWI prevention coordinator for Luna County, and the current Miss Las Cruces - whose main platform was A`lcohol Awareness for Underage Drinkers - to speak in our stead," the Judd family responded.

"We feel that Claudia has much to say about the problem, especially considering that she lost a brother to a drunk driver."

Montoya befriended the Judds following the death of their son and is passionate about the issue of responsible drinking, said Christina Chavez Kelley, assistant to the president at NMSU and organizer of the forum.

The goal of the event is a community-based response to the issue of alcohol abuse by young people, which often begins as early as middle school.

Mack Quintana, president and publisher of the Las Cruces Sun-News, will serve as the moderator. Quintana has a history of community involvement with education throughout his career.

The forum is open and all interested community members are urged to attend. The list of presenters includes: Martin, New Mexico's DWI Czar Rachel O'Connor, Aliesha Ruiz of the New Mexico attorney general's office, Las Cruces Mayor Bill Mattiace, City Manager Terrence Moore, Dona Ana County Commission Chairman Bill McCamley, County Manager Brian Haines, Sheriff Todd Garrison and Louis Martinez of the Las Cruces Public Schools. A panel of NMSU students will discuss the issues they confront concerning alcohol use and peer pressure.

For more information call Christina Chavez Kelley at (505) 646-1729.